New Tech Packs Hundreds of Sensors into a Single Optical Fiber

By: | July 29th, 2014

Photo © Kevin Chen / University of Pittsburgh

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have developed an all-optical high temperature sensor used in gas flow measurements that can operate at high temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius.

This sensor was developed by combining the concepts of active fiber sensors and high temperature fiber sensors.

It can successfully operate at 850 degrees Celsius, which is 200 degrees higher than an earlier notable demonstration of MEMS-based sensors developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

This revolutionary technology could be successfully utilized in industrial sensing applications where conditions are harsh, like interiors of nuclear reactors, outer space, deep geothermal drill cores and many other areas.

The researchers call this sensor packed fiber a ‘smart optical fiber sensor powered by in-fiber light.’

Science behind:

The basic concept behind this new approach involves integrating optical heating elements, optical sensors, an energy delivery cable and a signal cable within a single optical fiber. The team was able to group together a number of optical-fiber sensors into one fiber to eliminate wiring problems traditionally associated with using a large number of leads.

The heating element derives the energy from the optical power delivered by the fiber, whereas the optical sensor within the same fiber measures the heat transfer from the heating element and transmits it back.

The team plans to continue their research to integrate this technology into common engineering devices.


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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