Micro-machining techniques for the fabrication of fibre Fabry-Perot sensors
Fabry-Perot optical fibre sensors have been used extensively for measuring a variety of parameters such as strain, temperature, pressure and vibration. Conventional extrinsic fibre Fabry-Perot sensors are associated with problems such as calibration of the gauge length of each individual sensor, their relatively large size compared to the diameter of optical fibre and a manual manufacturing method that leads to poor reproducibility. Therefore, new designs and fabrication techniques for producing fibre Fabry-Perot sensors are required to address the problems of extrinsic fibre Fabry-Perot sensors. This thesis investigates hydrofluoric acid etching and F2-laser micro-machining of optical fibres to produce intrinsic Fabry-Perot cavities. Chemical etching of single mode fused silica fibres produced cavities across the core of the fibres due to preferential etching of the doped-region. Scanning electron microscope, interferometric surface profiler and CCD spectrometer studies showed that the optical quality of the etched cavities was adequate to produce Fabry-Perot interference. Controlled fusion splicing of etched fibres produced intrinsic Fabry-Perot cavities. These sensors were surface-mounted on composite coupons and their response to applied strain was studied using low coherence interferometry. These sensors showed linear and repeatable response with the strain measured by the electrical resistance strain gauges. To carry out F2-laser micro-machining of fused silica and sapphire substrates, a micro-machining station was designed and constructed. This involved the design of illumination optics for 157 nm laser beam delivery, the design and construction of beam delivery chamber, target alignment and monitoring systems. Ablation of fused silica and sapphire disks was carried out to determine ablation parameters suitable for micro-machining high aspect ratio microstructures that have adequate optical quality to produce Fabry-Perot interference. Cavities were micro-machined through the diameter of SMF 28 and SM 800 fibres at different energy densities. CCD interrogation of these intrinsic fibre cavities ablated at an energy density of 25 x 10 4 Jm -2 produced Fabry-Perot interference fringes. The feasibility of micro-machining high aspect ratio cavities at the cleaved end-face of the fused silica fibres and through the diameter of sapphire fibres was demonstrated. A technique based on in-situ laser-induced fluorescence monitoring was developed to determine the alignment of optical fibres and ablation depth during ablation through the fibre diameter. Ablation of cavities through the diameter of fibre Bragg gratings showed that the heat-generated inside the cavity during ablation had no effect on the peak reflection and the integrity of core and cladding of the fibre. Finally, a pH-sensor, a chemical sensor based on multiple cavities ablated in multimode fibres and a feasible design for pressure sensor fabrication based on ablated cavity in a single mode fibre were demonstrated.