Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Fiber Optic Sensors
Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology (ORCMT) has been investigating innovative uses for fiber optic technology in sensor-based applications. Researchers have been focusing on the application development of silicone rubber optical fibers. These compliant materials can be embedded in various matrices, conforming to the environment in which they are located, and sense bends, stretches, distortions, twists, ruptures, vibrations, compressions, moisture content, and excessive temperatures.
Fiber optic sensors can be characterized as intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic fiber optic sensors use the properties of the fiber as part of the sensing mechanism. Extrinsic fiber optic sensors use the fiber, itself, as a way to transport information in and out of the sensing elements. Experienced in both types, ORCMT has devised sensor-based applications such as weighing vehicles in motion and transporting high-power laser beams.
Fiber optic sensor technology provides many advantages for the defense community. Benefits include its immunity to electromagnetic noise; resistance against vibration damage; low conductivity of electricity and heat; compact size; and affordability. Fiber optic technology is also compatible with advanced applications because it can be coupled with non-linear optical materials, fast-switching optical components, and ultra-high-speed communications systems. In addition, fibers can be fabricated from high temperature materials, such as sapphire and silica, for embedding into advanced composites, airframes, and hulls.
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