Distributed sensing using polarization sensitive optical low-coherence reflectometry and fiber gratings

Optical low coherence reflectometry (OLCR) is non-destructive interferometric technique that allows measuring amplitude and phase of the light reflected from the device under test. OLCR is a powerful tool for the characterization of the various optical devices such as fiber gratings and optical waveguides. This thesis work had explored possibilities to combine the OLCR technique with fiber gratings to perform distributed strain and temperature measurements, and to develop novel sensing techniques as an alternative to classical spectral methods. Special attention is devoted to polarization sensitive measurements and techniques, and OLCR techniques that use only amplitude information, as an alternative to more complicated phase sensitive measurements. Using a polarization sensitive system two methods for the measurement of local birefringence of fiber Bragg gratings (FBG) using OLCR were developed. The first technique uses oscillations in the OLCR amplitude signal to directly obtain the beat length and the birefringence. The second method is based on the measurement of the OLCR phase and inverse scattering algorithm. Both methods were compared with birefringence obtained from spectral measurements, and very good agreement was obtained. The indirect method, based on local Bragg grating determination requires two independent measurements and mathematical reconstruction, but provides a very high spatial resolution of ≈ 25 µm. The grating length limits the minimum measurable birefringence in the direct method, but a good sensitivity of 4×10-6 was obtained, which corresponds to a Bragg wavelength shift of 4 pm. The spatial resolution is in the millimeter range in this case. The novel methods were successfully applied for the distributed measurement of birefringence of FBG under diametric load. New types of tunable devices and sensors – fiber Bragg gratings written in high attenuation fibers (HAF) were developed. Active tuning by heating was achieved by optical pumping of a pure single mode fiber without any mechanical or electrical parts, or deposited light absorption coatings. Tuning can be controlled by the applied pump power, the position of the grating, the HAF attenuation level, and the pumping configuration. The proposed design assures a high repeatability and long lifetime. Using OLCR these devices were successfully applied to measure the liquid level with a spatial resolution of 100 micrometers. Liquid level measurements that use both phase and amplitude, or only amplitude were demonstrated. The same principles could be easily applied to design other fiber grating devices (long-period, tilted etc), and sensors based on hot-wire anemometry, like flow or vacuum sensors.


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