Multiplexing of interferometric fiber optic sensors for smart structure applications using spread spectrum techniques

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Virginia Tech

The developing field of smart structures and skins provides an application to which fiber optic sensors bring unique capabilities and benefits. The primary cost in a network of fiber sensors is in the sources, receivers and associated hardware and can be prohibitive for a large number of sensors. Multiplexing of sensors based on spread spectrum techniques offers an efficient and cost effective solution to this limitation.

The system hardware developed in this research work is capable of the real time monitoring of a four sensor network. Experimental results with embedded and attached Extrinsic Fabry Perot Interferometers (EFPI) are presented. The system can be used to multiplex any type of sensor which translates the measurand into intensity variations of the light.

A measure of the system efficiency is obtained using crosstalk measurements. A suppression of 40 dB has been obtained between the desired sensor signal and the interference. The effect on system performance has been observed by varying system parameters such as code length and separation between codes. Highly sensitive embedded interferometric sensors have been used in a multimeasurand environment to measure temperature and strain. A solution to the inherent 'near-far' problem in an optical COMA system has been proposed and results for the same are presented.

A novel WDM/CDM hybrid (Wavelength Division Multiplexing/Code Dhtision Multiplexing) scheme has been proposed to increase the light intensity at the detector thereby increasing the number of sensors in the system. Methods to optimize and upgrade the system are discussed.