The application of fibre Bragg grating networks as strain sensors and as phased array antenna true time delay elements
The fabrication of in-fibre Bragg gratings, and the application of arrays of such gratings as strain sensors and as true time delay elements for the control of phased array antennas is reported. Chirped period Bragg gratings were produced using the fibre deformation fabrication technique, with chirps of between 2.9nm and 17.3nm achieved. Arrays of 5mm and 2mm long uniform period Bragg gratings were fabricated using the inscription method, for use as true time delay elements,dissimilar wavefronts and their spectral characteristics recorded. The uniform period grating arrays were used to create minimum time delays of 9.09ps, 19.02ps and 31ps; making them suitable for controlling phased array antennas operating at RF frequencies of up to 3GHz, with 10° phase resolution. Four 4mm long chirped gratings were produced using the dissimilar wavefronts fabrication method, having chirps of 7nm, 12nm, 20nm and 30nm, and were used to create time delays of between 0.3ps and 59ps. Hence they are suitable for controlling phased array antennas at RF frequencies of up to 48GHz. The application of in fibre Bragg gratings as strain sensors within smart structure materials was investigated, with their sensitivity to applied strain and compression measured for both embedded and surface mounted uniform period and fibre Fabry-Perot filter gratings. A fibre Bragg grating sensor demultiplexing scheme based on a liquid crystal filled Fabry-Perot etalon tuneable transmission filter was proposed, successfully constructed and fully characterised. Three characteristics of the LCFP etalon were found to pose operational limitations to its application in a Bragg grating sensor system; most significantly, the resonance peak wavelength was highly (-2,77nm/°C) temperature dependent. Several methods for minimising this temperature sensitivity were investigated, but enjoyed only limited success. It was therefore concluded that this type (E7 filled) of LCFP etalon is unsuitable for use as a Bragg grating sensor demultiplexing element.