Infoscience

Journal article

Distributed photothermal spectroscopy in microstructured optical fibers: towards high-resolution mapping of gas presence over long distances

Chemical sensing using optical fibers is often challenging, as it is generally difficult to achieve strong interaction between the guided light and the analyte at the wavelength of interest for performing the detection. Despite this difficulty, many schemes exist (and can be found in the literature) for point chemical fiber sensors. However, the challenge increases even further when it comes to performing fully distributed chemical sensing. In this case, the optical signal which interacts with the analyte is typically also the signal that has to travel to and from the interrogator: for a good sensitivity, the light should interact strongly with the analyte, leading inevitably to an increased loss and a reduced range. Few works in the literature actually provide demonstrations of truly distributed chemical sensing and, although there have been several attempts to realize these sensors (e.g. based on special fiber coatings), the vast majority of these attempts has failed to reach widespread use due to several reasons, among them: lack of sensitivity or selectivity, lack of range or resolution, cross sensitivity to temperature or strain, or need to work at specific wavelengths where fiber instrumentation becomes extremely expensive or unavailable. In this work we provide a preliminary demonstration of the possibility of achieving distributed detection of gas presence with spectroscopic selectivity, high spatial resolution, potential for long range measurements and feasibility of having most of the interrogator system working at conventional telecom wavelengths. For a full exploitation of this concept, new fibers (or more likely, fiber bundles) should be developed capable of guiding specific wavelengths in the IR (corresponding to gas absorption wavelengths) with good overlap with the analyte while also having a solid core with good transmission behavior at 1.55 m, and good thermal coupling between the two guiding structures.

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