Optical sensor measures fibre strain

12 March 2003 -- Indigo Photonics, Birmingham, UK, has developed a new optical sensor system to measure strain detected by optical fibre gratings.

Mar 12th, 2003

12 March 2003 -- Indigo Photonics, Birmingham, UK, has developed a new optical sensor system to measure strain detected by optical fibre gratings.

The Fibre Sensor Interrogator (FSI) operates by transmitting and receiving light from a compact interrogation unit along an optical fibre, containing sensor gratings. A single fibre can be from metres to many kilometres long and include multiple sensor gratings, along the length. The optical fibre sensor gratings are small, lightweight and need no electrical power for operation.

This new sensor system addresses a wide range of markets, ranging from monitoring the structural health of tunnels & bridges to medical diagnostic applications.

Chris Shannon, CEO of Indigo Photonics explains "We are aware of large segments of the sensing market that have spurned fibre optic sensors for many years due to the prohibitive cost, size and complexity of the monitoring and interrogation technology.

By combining the fibre grating expertise of Indigo Photonics Ltd. with the high-performance semiconductor optical amplifier components from Kamelian Ltd. we've developed this system which delivers the price and performance the market has been looking for."

Laurence Garrett and Mike Sibson of 3i's technology team, who work closely with both companies, said, "It is the collaboration between Indigo Photonics and Kamelian, (Glasgow), which is the driving force behind the innovative nature of this product.

"At 3i we are delighted to see that this successful partnership has highlighted the commercial opportunities in optical sensors, and clearly demonstrates the capabilities of networking the 3i portfolio."

At the heart of the system are the optical fibre sensor gratings and the compact optical interrogation unit. The fibre gratings can be readily tailored to different applications. The optical interrogation unit is a compact single card, based around a high performance semiconductor optical amplifier requiring only a computer and power to operate.

The system benefits from incorporating no moving parts. Remotely monitored versions, which can be fitted in remote or inaccessible locations and provide measurement information over a wireless link, are in development.

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