Novel Optical Sensors for High Temperature Measurement in Harsh Environments

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Accurate measurement of temperature is essential for the safe and efficient operation and control of a vast range of industrial processes. Many of these processes involve harsh environments, such as high temperature, high pressure, chemical corrosion, toxicity, strong electromagnetic interference, and high-energy radiation exposure. These extreme physical conditions often prevent conventional temperature sensors from being used or make them difficult to use. Novel sensor systems should not only provide accurate and reliable temperature measurements, but also survive the harsh environments through proper fabrication material selections and mechanical structure designs.

This dissertation presents detailed research work on the design, modeling, implementation, analysis, and performance evaluation of novel optical high temperature sensors suitable for harsh environment applications. For the first time to our knowledge, an optical temperature sensor based on the broadband polarimetric differential interferometric (BPDI) technology is proposed and tested using single crystal sapphire material. With a simple mechanically structured sensing probe, in conjunction with an optical spectrum-coded interferometric signal processing technique, the proposed single crystal sapphire optical sensor can measure high temperature up to 1600 oC in the harsh environments with high accuracy, corrosion resistance, and long-term measurement stability. Based on the successfully demonstrated sensor prototype in the laboratory, we are confident of the next research step on sensor optimization and scale-up for full field implementations. The goal for this research has been to bring this temperature sensor to a level where it will become commercially viable for harsh environment applications associated with industries.



Fiber optic sensors, Temperature, Polarimetry, Birefringence, Low-coherence interferometry