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1014 FIBER OPTICS IN SENSING AND MEASUREMENT


IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN QUANTUM ELECTRONICS, VOL. 6, NO. 6, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2000
1014

Fiber Optics in Sensing and Measurement


Brian Culshaw, Member, IEEE

Invited Paper

Electrical Engineering, Glasgow G1 1XW, Scotland.


Abstract—Optical techniques for measurement—interfer- Publisher Item Identifier S 1077-260X(00)11502-3.
ometry, spectrometry and polarimetry—have long been used in
materials measurement and environmental evaluation. The
optical fiber lends yet more flexibility in the implementation
of these basic concepts. Fiber-optic technology has, for over 30
years, made important contributions to the science of
measurement.
This paper presents a perspective on these contributions which
while far from exhaustive highlights the important conceptual
advances made in the early days of optical fiber technology and the
breadth of appliaton which has emerged. There are also apparent
opportunities for yet more imaginative research in applying
guided-wave optics to emerging and challenging measurement
requirements ranging from microsystems characterization to
cellular biochemistry to art restoration.
Index Terms—Acoustic measurements, chemical analysis, dis-
placement measurement, gyroscopes, mechanical measurements,
optical fiber measurement applications, optical fiber transducers,
power system measurements, temperature measurements.

I. INTRODUCTION
IBER optics has undoubtedly had a profound impact on

F the communications industry [1]. This can be traced back


to
the seminal papers of Kao and Hockham, and Simon and Spitz
[2], [3], who basically appreciated in the early to mid 1960s that
optical signals could be transmitted along glass or silica fibers
with a loss potentially below that experienced in coaxial copper
cables. Further, unlike copper where skin effect increases loss
with baseband modulation frequency, the loss in optical fibers
could be maintained for all conceivable modulation frequencies.
A little while later, Dyott [4] observed that there were regions of
zero dispersion in the transmission characteristic of silica. The
rest is well-documented history brilliantly encapsulated in
Hecht’s book [1].
But fiber optics was not new in 1965. Glass fibers had already
appeared in ornamental lamps and the basic ideas of the dielec-
tric waveguide were well established. Using optical fibers
to guide light to and from a place at which a measurement was
to be made had already emerged and had gone from concept to
prac- tice. The first patents had been filed on fiber-optic sensing
and had emerged as a tentative product [5] described in the
literature. At around the same time, Eli Snitzer’s ever-
creative intellect was proposing using fiber optics to transmit
phase-modulated

Manuscript received October 9, 2000.


The author is with the University of Strathclyde Department of Electronic
and
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signals [6]—the basis of another important class of fiber-optic mented—a source simultaneously of frustration, challenge, and
sensors. satisfaction to those within it. Fiber-optic sensing is therefore
So this brief paper will present a predominantly historical conceptually orthogonal to fiber-optic communications which
per- involves very large numbers of essentially the same system
spective on the evolution of research, development, and applica- configuration and components. There is very little spin-off
tion in fiber-optic sensor technology. From the early beginnings in practice from the communications industry into sensor
almost 35 years ago, the optical fiber sensor (OFS) community technologies. The fiber itself, some guided-wave components,
became infected with communications euphoria, and by the mid some, but by no means all, connectors and some, but by
1970s to the early 1980s felt OFS technology was the solution to no means all, sources and detectors are the common
everything. Realism percolated, though perhaps a little slowly, elements. Conceiving and realizing the necessary mechanical
and now we know that there are areas of real application, but that and elec- tronic infrastructure around the guided-wave
there are still interesting and relevant problems left to ex- cite components is the major portion of optical fiber sensor
the research community. technology. In particular, packaging is an immense challenge—
indeed the case with all sensing techniques.
II. SENSOR TECHNOLOGY Sensing techniques have another important generic feature.
Virtually all physical and chemical phenomena which are used
Sensing and measurement is a specialized art. Sensor tech- in the transduction process are temperature sensitive. Most mea-
nologies are applications specific. The thermometer switch surements are not concerned with temperature. Consequently,
which controls your central heating is totally unsuited to control most sensing and measurement systems must first of all correct
a cooling system in your automobile. Sensors all operate in for temperature variations. This is a perennial issue which has
niche markets. The sensing mechanisms are based on literally most certainly marked the process of fiber-optic sensor tech-
dozens of physical and chemical phenomena interfaced to nology, producing solutions and approaches with varying de-
electronic signal conditioning through dozens more custom grees of elegance and ingenuity.
designed protocols. The industry is consequently highly frag-
1077–260X/00$10.00 © 2000 IEEE
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Consequently, sensors are never big business, e.g., the


automobile industry is often perceived as the enormous market.
The worldwide volume is about 50 million vehicles per annum.
None of the mass market sensors in automobiles is worth more
than a few dollars and there are numerous different suppliers
worldwide. Consequently, even in the automobile industry,
small companies or small sub divisions of major corporations
provide the sensors. There is no homogenous multibillion dollar
market for anything in sensing and measurement technology.
Fig. 1. Basic functions of the optical fiber sensor.
If we examine fiber sensors specifically, the niches are cur-
rently very narrow, so the few companies which are operating in
this domain, while profitable and interesting, employ typically
10–100 people. They are also patient. Above all else, sensors
have to work, often in difficult environments ranging from the
physical extremes of aerospace to the chemical extremes of bio-
medicine or process technologies. Sensors take time. A decade
from concept to product is normal. Precision gyroscopes, for ex-
ample, can take twice this!

III. FIBER SENSOR TECHNIQUES: THE BASICS


The fiber sensor is illustrated diagrammatically in Fig. 1. The
basic components are simple. Light is taken to a modulation re-
gion using an optical fiber and modulated therein by a physical,
chemical, or biological phenomena, and the modulated light
is transmitted back to a receiver, detected, and demodulated.
Hopefully, there is a one-to-one correlation between the phe- Fig. 2. “Fotonic” sensor measuring the position of a reflector relative to a fiber
nomenon of interest and the demodulated signal. (bundle) end.
There are two substantial issues in realizing a viable optical
fiber sensor technology:
The basic concept is simple. The fraction of light transmitted
1) to ensure the one-to-one relationship between the pa- between the receive elements in the bundle and the transmit el-
rameter to be measured and the demodulated signal; ements in the bundles depends on the separation between the
2) to match the technology to the application in terms of reflector and the bundle itself and is, to a first approximation,
both performance and cost. independent of small rotational angles of the target object, par-
The first of these is the simpler one despite the fact that the ticularly for the high numerical aperture fibers uniformly illumi-
impact of the fibers to and from the modulation region, varia- nated with light from an incandescent bulb for which the sensor
tions in source and detector characteristics with temperature and was originally conceived.
time and the influence of temperature on the modulation process Of course, if the reflectivity of the target changes, then the
are all important. The second of these must recognize the pres- transmission ratio changes. However, the inventors had foreseen
ence of established techniques and in particular must identify this eventuality and designed compensation schemes to over-
otherwise insoluble problems which are important but for tech- come the problem. These involved use of two receiving bundles,
nical reasons have not been satisfactorily resolved. There are one a known distance from the other. The ratio of received light
sufficient examples of such problems to continue to stimulate in these receiving bundles is then a unique function of the dis-
the fiber-optic sensor community [7], [29]–[31].1 tance between the end of the bundle and the target.
The Fotonic sensor has had some modest success in real ap-
IV. THE FOTONIC SENSOR: INTENSITY MODULATED SYSTEMS plications as a proximity measuring system. It was capable of
The Fotonic sensor is described exhaustively in [5] and was resolutions in the micrometer range, made no physical contact
patented somewhat earlier. It is based (Fig. 2) on bifurcated fiber with the target, and had the usual optical advantages concerned
bundles. with the electromagnetic interference and pickup.
This basic sensor has been reinvented in numerous formats
1Optical fiber sensing is unique in sensor technologies in continuing to with some regularity ever since. The fiber bundle concept has
present its own series of conferences. Of these, the most important is probably been replaced by the use of individual fibers and the light source
the international conference on optical fiber sensors series, starting in 1983 has been increased in intensity by using light-emitting diodes
in London. The first twelve proceedings are available on CD ROM from
SPIE, Bellingham, WA. Volume 13 is SPIE volume 3746; volume 14 will be and superradiant systems. There have been slight modifications
presented in Venice, Italy, in October 2000 (SPIE Vol. 4185). There are also to the intensity fluctuation compensation scheme. Sometimes
series on chemical sensing (Europtrode)—various publishers, and chemical separate transmit and receive fiber locations have been used.
and environmental sensing. (SPIE volumes 4200 and 4205, to be presented in
Boston, MA, November 2000, and volumes 4199 and 4201, also Boston, 2000, The application context has been changed. The idea has been
are the most recent in the series.) demonstrated for monitoring machine tool wear, for looking at
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Fig. 3. Dual-beam all-fiber interferometers used in sensing—normally the interferometer is biased, dynamically or stastically, to the quadrature
optimum sensitivity point X.

blade clearances in gas turbine engines, for measuring angular Michelson configurations were designed for as near as possible
rotation instead of longitudinal displacement, and to monitor zero-path-length difference between the arms to avoid phase
the displacement of pressure diaphragms in pressure sensors for noise to amplitude noise conversion. Some heterodyne inter-
automotive and medical applications. ferometer detection systems were assessed, and while these
The Fotonic sensor exemplifies much of optical fiber sensor were in some ways simpler, they have now been almost totally
technology. It was conceived and demonstrated 35 years ago. It abandoned. The simplicity arises from the fact that quadrature
has been frequently reinvented. It has occasionally been used in operation need no longer be maintained (Fig. 3).
earnest in applications which were not dreamed of when the idea The optical fiber interferometer was hailed as among the most
was originally put forward. It uses simple intensity modulation sensitive and versatile of sensor technologies. Its sensitivity can
and it has within it the capability if needed for referencing to be increased simply by adding more fiber until the losses within
remove the impact of fluctuations in reflectivity, fiber loss, and the fiber begin to exceed the additional signal. It is straightfor-
source output. ward to show that this occurs when the total optical fiber length
And finally, temperature sensitivity is inherent within the me- is the inverse of the attenuation in nepers per unit length. Typi-
chanics of the reflector mounting and movement rather than the cally, many kilometers of the fiber can, if needed, be used.
optical system itself. Additionally, the optical fiber can be wound in numerous
shapes and sizes which in turn can determine the overall
V. USING PHASE: HYDROPHONES AND GYROSCOPES re- sponse of the sensor to a physical parameter field.
Furthermore, the transmission path is immune to
Interferometry is one of the favored tools of optics and most electromagnetic interfer- ence, is very light in weight, and is
of the many versions of interferometry have been incorporated chemically and physically compatible with a wide variety of host
into optical fiber sensor technology. The Fotonic sensor, based materials. The interfer- ometer remains the most utilized fiber-
as it was on a very simple concept, never really entered the op- optic sensor technology with a particular presence in
tical literature. It was more than a decade later that optical fiber gyroscopes, hydrophones, and strain-sensing applications.
sensors became a subject of optics when the dependence of the
phase delay through single-mode fiber on temperature, pressure,
VI. DISTRIBUTED SENSING
and strain became apparent [8], [9]—though the existence of this
phase dependence had already been noted by Snitzer [6] in a The interferometer measures the change in the end-to-end
different context. path length along the fiber configured to interact with the phys-
Around the same time [10], [11], the new dimension which ical parameter field. However, there are a multiplicity of ways
optical fibers could give to the Sagnac effect became apparent in which light may interact with the external world around it, and
and the fiber-optic gyroscope was conceived and demonstrated. some of these can be configured to enable a probe to be devel-
Demonstrating the concept is the simple but exciting phase. oped which reveals a parameter field as a function of position
A multiplicity of sensor architectures—most notably fiber-optic along the fiber length. Distributed sensing (Fig. 4) is a technique
Mach–Zehnder, fiber-optic Michelson, and fiber-optic Sagnac which is unique (or almost so) to fiber-optic technologies. While
interferometers were evaluated, calibrated, and tested. The there are a very few electrical cables which can be configured to
very basic sensitivities were assessed. The phase delay in an be read through a time-domain reflectometer, none has the
optical fiber changes by approximately 1 ppm per longitudinal ruggedness, flexibility, and accuracy of the fiber-optic model.
microstrain, 1 ppm per hydrostatic bar of environmental Distributed sensing relies upon backscatter and on modu-
pressure change, and 10 ppm per C change in temperature. lating the backscattered radiation produced by a forward-trav-
The influence of laser source noise on interferometer per- elling optical beam to reveal typically a temperature or strain
formance rapidly became apparent, and Mach–Zehnder or field. Three major backscattering processes have been used.
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1018 FIBER OPTICS IN SENSING AND MEASUREMENT
IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN QUANTUM ELECTRONICS, VOL. 6, NO. 6, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2000
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(a)

(b)
Fig. 4. Generic distributed sensing concept using elastically (linear) or
inelastically (nonlinear) backscattered light as the information carrier.

Rayleigh backscatter produces the highest signal of the three, but


its returned intensity is simply a representation of the inten- sity
which arrived at the scattering point. It follows then that
Rayleigh backscattering systems must modulate this intensity (c)
through some secondary mechanism. Brillouin scatter produces
Fig. 5. Some star-based optical fiber sensor multiplexor architectures. (a)
an offset frequency spectrum related directly to the acoustic The most power efficient, but mechanical switches are slow and expensive. (b)
phonon spectrum in the fiber. This in turn can be stimulated Feasible but inefficient in its use of optical power. (c) Simple to implement and
by the illuminating optical beam, so a measure of the offset has demonstrated large multiplexing capability ([16]).
spectrum effectively produces a frequency dependent upon the
acoustic velocity in the optical fiber and the wavelength of (Fig. 5) is, for individual sensor elements, the most simple to im-
the illuminating source. Assuming the latter gives the former, plement, since equal power division is relatively easy to arrange.
which in turn depends upon temperature and strain. Raman Multiplexing also features strongly in Bragg grating technology
scatter probes the optical phonon spectrum and this in turn can (see below). However, even with relatively lossy sensors—for
give a unique measure of the temperature at the scattering point example gas cells—up to 128 elements can be usefully config-
(the volumes in [7], [29]–[31] present a detailed description of ured into a single array, fed from a single optical system [16].
these interaction mechanisms).
The basic idea of distributed sensing was appreciated in the VIII. PHYSICAL SENSING: MODULATING LIGHT OUTSIDE THE
late 1970s [12] and the first mention of the Raman distributed FIBER
temperature probe came rapidly thereafter [13]. The possibili- The Fotonic sensor which started the process was based upon
ties for Brillouin became apparent a decade or so later [14], by what now would be termed an extrinsic modulation scheme—in
which stage the first commercial Raman temperature probes had other words, the fiber is used to link the optical signal to the
begun to appear. sensing point. In addition to the many variations on the basic
Distributed sensing remains one of the most powerful tools Fotonic sensor, where the signal clearly depends upon attenua-
offered by fiber-optic sensor technology. It enables unique tion, a number of other architectures have been investigated and
measurements which cannot be undertaken using competitive some exploited using attenuation independent modulation onto
technologies. However, an optical time domain reflectometer the optical carrier.
(OTDR) reconfigured to detect time varying Brillouin or Raman Three basic approaches have been examined:
spectra is a complex specialized and therefore expensive piece 1) color modulation, for example, using spectral slicing
of equipment, but despite this very significant parameter, of the radiation from a light-emitting diode;
distributed sensing has found its niches. 2) interferometric measurements of the distance
between the end of the optical fiber and the reflective
VII. MULTIPLEXED SYSTEMS surface;
Optical systems have, at the typical power levels involved in 3) configuring the parameter to be measured into a mod-
optical fiber transmission, very useful signal-to-noise ratio po- ulation scheme, which introduces an amplitude modula-
tential within the very modest bandwidths demanded by sensing tion at a frequency dependent upon the measurand.
applications. Additionally, if the receiver power is within the The basic principles of these approaches are illustrated in
shot noise limit, the signal-to-noise ratio only decreases as the Fig. 6, and again the initial demonstrations of these principles
square root of the power. These simple observations rapidly date back to the period between 1975 and 1985 [17]–[19]. Dig-
pointed toward the concept of dividing this power among an ital shaft encoding or longitudinal displacement measurement
array of sensors and the ideas of multiplexing sensor arrays operating on a spectral slicing principle proved to be robust and
have been with us for some considerable time [15]. The sensors capable of up to 12-bit accuracy. Mechanical resonators—varia-
can be strung together in a multiplicity of architectures based tions on the vibrating wire gauge—are well established as preci-
upon ladders, stars, and combinations thereof. Of these, the star
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sion measurement concepts. The principle is simple. A mechan-


ical strain applied along the axis of the wire changes the reso-
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(a) The photorefractive effect in optical fibers was first reported


during the same very productive era in the mid 1970s
[21].

(b)

(c)
Fig. 6. Three intensity insensitive modulation schemes for optical fiber
sensors. (a) Spectral slicing. (b) Interferometric filtering. (c) Amplitude
modulation at a measurand-dependant resonant frequency.

nant frequency and through measuring this frequency, the strain


may be inferred with the usual proviso concerning tempera-
ture sensitivity. The optical fiber versions of these resonators use
thermo-optic excitation and with careful design can operate
through fiber links several kilometers in length. The mechan-
ical engineering of the sensor head is demanding but these sen-
sors have now found their place in very demanding applications,
notably the measurement of pressure “down hole” in oil wells.
Interferometric measurement systems for diaphragm displace-
ment have been based upon both using the space between the
diaphragm and the fiber end as a Fabry–Perot cavity and mea-
suring the spectral transmission characteristic, and on exploiting
white-light interferometry to replicate the displacement of the
diaphragm within the receiver. In white-light interferometry, an
incoherent source is used to illuminate the measurement inter-
ferometer and fringes are detected at the receiver only when the
path difference of a reference interferometer exactly matches
that of the measurement. The first demonstration of this prin-
ciple [20] highlighted the potential precision with which this
measurement could be made in sensing, and subsequently the
basic principle has been extensively exploited.

IX. FIBER BRAGG GRATING


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1021 FIBER OPTICS IN SENSING AND MEASUREMENT
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(a)

(b)
Fig. 7. Bragg grating geometry and functions. The reflected spectrum closely
approximates to the Fourier transform of the grating. (a) Short broadband
reflector/mode coupler. (b) Long narrowband wavelength selective coupler
functions performed by fiber Bragg gratings.

The photorefractive effect can be used to make periodic struc-


tures along the core in optical fiber, and these periodic struc-
tures (Fig. 7) act as highly selective optical filters. The reflec-
tion wavelength depends on the period of the grating, which in
turn could be modified through temperature and phase excur-
sions which change the optical path length within the grating
structure. Fiber Bragg gratings is an extensive subject predom-
inantly with applications in the communications area for ele-
ments such as wavelength tuning and stabilization structures
and optical filters. Initially, the gratings were written by sending
counter-propagating beams along the fiber, and it was a decade
or thereabouts later that side illumination techniques using ul-
traviolet lasers introduced the necessary flexibility in defining
the periodic structure [22].
In the sensor context, fiber Bragg gratings can be written se-
quentially at predetermined points along a single fiber and can
also be made to reflect light in different wavelength bands. Con-
sequently, a linear array of, say, 16 gratings can provide 16 sepa-
rate sensing points, each individually identified through a spec-
tral slicing technique. Precision measurement of wavelength in
the reflected spectrum, usually involving a stabilized reference,
can then yield the period of each grating. This periodicity is de-
pendent on the optical path length and gives an indication of the
combined temperature/strain fields. In a constant tempera- ture
(or temperature compensated) environment, the linear array of
Bragg gratings can act as a multiplexed strain gauge array. This
is, though, a somewhat special array. It is extremely com- pact,
does not need individual wires to connect to each strain
measuring point, and can be attached to or embedded within
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Fig. 8. All fiber current monitor and crystalline current (magnetic field) or voltage (electric field) fiber sensor architecture.

a wide variety of host materials. Bragg gratings have been ex-


tensively researched with the last decade or so as strain gauge
elements and now are probably the most published fiber sensor
technology.
X. MEASURING ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS
Faraday rotation (the dependence of circular birefringence
on magnetic fields) and the electrooptic effect (dependence
of—usually—linear birefringence on applied electric fields) are
well-known phenomena in the world of optical physics. With the Fig. 9. Basic optrode which features in many, perhaps most, optical
advent of optical fiber transmission, it was natural then that the fiber chemical sensor architectures.
fiber should be used to link an optical signal to a suitable
crystalline material to measure electromagnetic fields. The Optical fibers have a natural part to play and their poten-
great benefit of the fiber link lies potentially in sensing at high tial for chemical and biochemical measurements became rec-
voltage, since current transformers are expensive, unwieldy, ognized within the same familiar timescale [25], [26]. The term
and have very limited frequency response. It seems that fiber “optrode” (Fig. 9) emerged later to describe a device which uses
optics could provide an insulating link to high-voltage areas color-sensitive intermediate chemistry to monitor the almost in-
and make the measurement using a very broadband detector variably liquid immediate surroundings. In optrode-based de-
with a rapid response interaction mechanism. Additionally, the vices, the optics is usually very simple, and updated versions of
Faraday effect occurs in all materials, particular the silica the filter wheel first described in [25] are still used (though
of the optical fiber, so perhaps looping the optical fiber along the typically using two colors of LED). Most of the progress in op-
magnetic field (Fig. 8) could also produce Faraday rotation. trode-based devices lies in the complex area of immobilization
Measuring electromagnetic fields has developed into an im- chemistry and in protective packaging especially for use in bi-
portant niche for fiber-optic sensing and again the evolution ological systems. Applications ranging from monitoring of bile
follows the now familiar pattern. The original references date in the digestive tract to blood oxygen and blood pH to pollutant
back more than 20 years [23], [24] with subsequent engineering monitoring in water supplies have now all been realized. For
and refinement dealing with the practicalities of vibration sen- biomedical sensing, the usual approach is to incorporate a dis-
sitivity, temperature sensitivity, and packaging to protect from posal sensing head, though for water supply measurement sys-
environmental interference. tems, long-term stability of the sensor chemistry remains prob-
lematic.
The intermediate chemistry in optrodes has the benefit that the
XI. CHEMISTRY AND BIOMEDICINE : OPTRODES
sensor can be made highly specific to a particular species and
Color and chemistry are inherently compatible. Materials are the signal from that species can be made to occur within a
frequently characterized through their absorption spectra, much wavelength range compatible with optical fiber technology.
of which lies in the optical region, and visual indicators exem- Stability in packaging remains an issue, and more direct mea-
plified by litmus paper are well-characterized means of interro- surement systems eliminating the intermediate chemistry are
gating materials, especially liquids, for their content. in principle more attractive. Direct spectroscopy therefore has
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an important role to play in optical fiber chemical measure- Tunnel as a fire-alarm system, in large process ovens for mon-
ment, though this emerged as a potentially viable technique a itoring temperature profiles, and in numerous other very spe-
decade or so later than the optrode was first mooted [27]. Gas cialized applications where temperature field measurements are
spectroscopy remains the most interesting potential application important. Brillouin scatter too has been used to measure tem-
though the strongest absorption lines for most species of interest perature, watching the concrete set in a major dam project in
lie outside the transmission window of optical fiber waveguides. Switzerland. It has also been used in earnest to measure strain
There are, however, frequently overtones in the near infrared, paradoxically in telecommunication cables especially in regions
and these have been used with some success in the detection of where landslip could cause local stresses which could compro-
methane, acetylene, hydrogen sulphide, and several other mise cable integrity. The Brillouin system also shows promise
species [28]. Once more, while there are niche applications, the in the oil industry to monitor the integrity of safety-critical and
peculiar properties of optical systems must be recognized. In this very expensive anchors and tethers.
context, the very specific wavelengths required to address the To attempt an exhaustive list of applications is impractical as
absorption bands are invariably outside the communications well as uninformative. The general observation that the princi-
spectrum, so optical sources with the appropriate power level ples first elucidated a quarter of a century ago are now emerging
and spectral purity remain relatively special items and are there- in practice can be applied for many of the techniques which have
fore expensive. However, a sufficiently large array of sensors been briefly mentioned herein. Additionally, every application
can make a system cost competitive, and its selectivity com- is manifestly unique and requires quite specific engineering to
pared to electrical pellistor technology (which simply detects translate the concept into reality. Fiber sensing has emerged as a
flammable gases) can be beneficial. The low attenuation of op- true parallel to everything else in the sensing and measurement
tical fibers also facilitates measurements over a very wide area industry with relatively small and specialized market opportu-
inaccessible to more established approaches. nities each with its own specific challenges.

XII. USING OPTICAL FIBERS SENSORS: THE APPLICATIONS XIII. WHAT OF THE FUTURE
Sensing and measurement are idiosyncratic niche-oriented Guided-wave optics, particularly fiber systems, continue to
activities, and the thought that optical fiber sensing can solve all offer unique possibilities in a measurement context. Where this
measurement problems has long since disappeared. will lead depends particularly on the initiatives of the research
Numerous niches have emerged.2 These range from moni- community. There remains considerable activity in chemical
toring pressure transients in diesel engines, to using white-light sensing with distributed measurement as one of many major
interferometry to measure strain in long-gauge-length (to 50 m) interests. Tapered fibers have emerged as means to monitor
sensors for civil engineering, to intravenous pressure sensing, to intracellular chemistry with significantly submicron resolution.
landfill monitoring for combustible gases. The same resolution too could be applied to measuring material
The Bragg grating strain gauge is arguably the most fre- properties in microengineered structures, though these have yet
quently quoted example in the literature, finding applications to to be demonstrated. There are also prospects for the very large
measure strain and/or temperature in bridges, in com- posite and gravitational telescopes, based on an enormous Sagnac
materials for marine and aerospace engineering and in down- interferometer, have been proposed though their realization is
hole pressure and temperature monitoring. Numerous probably unlikely.
experimental systems based on Bragg grating technology have So most of the work in fiber-optic sensors is now focused on
been demonstrated, and while these do illustrate the principles, developmental opportunities emerging from the very productive
the grating does remain very expensive equivalent to a strain era from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s. But the more specu-
gauge and true commercial activity remains sparse. lative research will continue, and at least some will lead into
In contrast, the fiber-optic gyroscope is now a modestly demanding, exotic, innovative measurements.
high-volume production subsystem. The gyroscope first
appeared in commercial aircraft when the Boeing 777 was REFERENCES
introduced, where it was used as an aid to vehicle stabilization. [1] J. Hecht, City of Light. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999.
It has also been used in automobiles as a navigation aid, [2] C. K. Kao and G. Hockham, “Dielectric fiber surface waveguides for
in missiles and munitions for guidance systems, and even in pro- optical frequencies,” Proc. IEE, vol. 113, pp. 1151–1158, July 1966.
[3] J. C. Simon and E. Spitz, “Propagation guidée de lumière coherente,”
totype remotely powered lawnmowers for ultrastraight stripes on Commun. à la Societé Française de Physique, vol. 24, no. 2, pp.
football pitches. The hydrophone too has begun to make its mark 149–169, 1963.
where Mach–Zehnder interferometer configuration can be [4] R. B. Dyott and J. R. Stern, “Group delay in glass fiber waveguides,” in
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[14] D. Culverhouse, F. Farahi, C. N. Pannell, and D. A. Jackson,
“Exploita- tion of stimulated Brillouin scattering as a sensing Brian Culshaw (M’83) was born in Ormskirk, Lan-
mechanism for dis- cashire, U.K., on September 24, 1945. He graduated
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with the B.Sc. degree in physics in 1966 and the Ph.D.
and Kersten, Eds. New York: Springer Verlag, 1989, pp. 552–559.
degree in electrical engineering in 1970, both from
[15] A. D. Kersey and A. Dandridge, “Distributed and multiplexed optical
fiber sensors,” in Proc. 5th Optical Fiber Sensors Conf., 1988, University College London, London, U.K.
pp. He joined Strathclyde University,
Glasgow, Scotland, as Professor of Electronics in
60–72. September
[16] B. Culshaw, G. Stewart, C. Tandy, and D. Moodie, “Fiber optic tech- 1983. He was formerly Vice Dean of the Engi-
niques for methane gas detection-from detection concept to system re- neering Faculty at Strathclyde and is currently
alization,” Sensors and Actuators B Chemical, vol. 51, pp. 25–37, 1998. Head of the Department of Electronic and Electrical
[17] J. P. Dakin, “Analogue and digital extrinsic optical fiber sensors based Engineering. He had previous appointments as a
on spectral filtering techniques,” in Proc. Fiber Optics London, Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Technical Staff Member
1984, at Bell Northern Research, Ottawa, Canada, Lecturer and later Reader,
pp. 219–226. University College London, and Senior Research Associate, Applied Physics
[18] S. Venkatesh and B. Culshaw, “Optical activated vibration in a micro- Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. He worked on microwave
machined silica structure,” Electron. Lett., vol. 21, pp. 315–317, 1985.
and semiconductor devices and their design and technology until 1975, when his
[19] E. W. Sasski, J. C. Hartl, and G. L. Mitchell, “A family of optical fiber
sensors using cavity resonator microshifts,” in Proc. 4th Optical Fiber interests evolved into guided-wave optics with particular applications in
Sensors Conf., Tokyo, Japan, 1986. sensing, signal processing, and instrumentation. His interests include optical
[20] S. A. Al-Chalabi, B. Culshaw, and D. E. N. Davies, “Partially coherent fiber gyroscopes, hydrophones, accelerometers, temperature probes, strain and
sources in interferometric sensors,” in Proc. 1st Optical Fiber Sensors pressure measurement, sensors, and a host of other measurement systems, also
Conf., 1983, pp. 132–135. venturing into signal processing architectures, micromachining techniques,
[21] K. O. Hill et al., “Photosensitivity in optical fiber waveguides: Appli- and high-speed network design. It was from this background that his interest in
cation to reflection filter fabrication,” Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 32, smart structures evolved through the appreciation that guided-wave optics could
pp. make a significant contribution to structural instrumentation. Subsequently, he
647–649, 1978. has become involved in a number of projects on smart structures, especially in
[22] G. Meltz, W. W. Morey, and W. H. Glenn, “Formation of Bragg composite materials and civil engineering. He has written extensively on
gratings in optical fibers by a transverse holographic method,” Opt. microwave semiconductors, fiber optics, and smart structures and materials,
Lett., vol. 14, having authored or co-authored over 300 papers and seven textbooks. He has
pp. 823–825, 1989.
[23] A. J. Rogers, “Optical measurement of current and voltage on power chaired major international conferences in these areas and also acts as a topical
systems,” IEEE J. Electric. Power Appl., vol. 2, p. 120, 1979. editor for Applied Optics (Optical Society of America). He is a director
[24] T. Bosselman, “Current sensors for power industry: Considerations,” in of SPIE and a founding director of OptoSci Ltd., a campus spin-out
Proc. 12th Optical Fiber Sensors Conf., Williamsburg, VA, 1997. company specializing in optoelectronic instrumentation.
[25] J. I. Peterson, S. R. Goldstein, and R. V. Fitzgerald, “Fiber optic pH
probe for physiological use,” Anal. Chem., vol. 52, p. 864, 1980.
[26] A. M. Scheggi, “Optical fiber sensors in medicine,” in Proc. 2nd
Optical
Fiber Sensors Conf., 1984, pp. 91–102.