Method and apparatus for measuring the local birefringence along an optical waveguide

This invention relates to a system and method to determine the distributed birefringence profile along an optical fibre. Birefringence manifests as different refractive indices for two orthogonal states of polarization of the light propagating in the optical fibre. The technique is based on the correlation among sets of measurements acquired using phase‐sensitive optical time‐domain reflectometry (phi-OTDR), launching light into the fibre with multiple states of polarization. The correlation between the measurements performed while sweeping the laser frequency gives a resonance (correlation) peak at a frequency detuning that is proportional to the refractive index difference between the two orthogonal polarizations. This enables measurements of the local value of the phase birefringence at any position along the optical fibre, so that longitudinal fluctuations of its value can be evaluated. Such fluctuations can be induced either accidentally during cabling and installation processes, or voluntarily due to varying conditions or environmental quantities such as temperature, strain and pressure, or even unintentionally as a result of a badly controlled manufacturing process.

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