Journal article

Distributed shape sensing using Brillouin scattering in multi-core fibers

A theoretical and experimental study on the response of Brillouin scattering in multi-core optical fibers (MCF) under different curving conditions is presented. Results demonstrate that the Brillouin frequency shift of the off-center cores in MCF is highly bending-dependent, showing a linear dependence on the fiber curvature. This feature is here exploited to develop a new kind of distributed optical fiber sensor, which provides measurements of a distributed profile mapping the longitudinal fiber shape. Using conventional Brillouin optical time-domain analysis with differential pulse-width pairs, fully distributed shape sensing along a 1 km-long MCF is practically demonstrated. Experimental results show a very good agreement with the theoretically expected behavior deduced from the dependence of the Brillouin frequency on the strain induced by the fiber bending over a given core. The analysis and results presented in this paper constitute the first demonstration of distributed bending sensing, providing the cornerstone to further develop it into a fully distributed three-dimensional shape sensor.

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