Date of Award

6-2016

Degree Name

MS in Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Dr. Dennis Derickson

Abstract

This thesis studies the center wavelength accuracy of a Fiber Bragg Grating Sensor system that has a large number of sensor elements both as a function of wavelength and as a function of position. Determining the center wavelength of each of the fiber optic sensors is a critical parameter that ultimately determines sensor accuracy. The high density environment can result in degradation of accuracy of the center wavelength measurement. This thesis aims to quantify this measurement error both with theoretical and experimental studies.

There are many sensing applications where optical fiber sensors are preferred over electrical sensors, such as the oil and gas industry where fiber optic sensors are used to monitor wells and pipelines due to their low signal degradation over long distances and immunity to harsh physical environments. Fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors in particular have widespread use because of their versatility, measurement sensitivity, and distributed multiplexing abilities. In conventional wavelength multiplexing, up to 50 FBG sensors are spread out over a band of 100nm, each with a center wavelength difference large enough so that each element can be individually measured. However, numerous sensing applications require several hundred to over a thousand sensors cascaded together on a single fiber. These sensor arrays use a combination of WDM and TDM for measurements, where many FBG sensors with the same center wavelength are separated by a long enough length of fiber so that the reflected signals are separated in time.

These Wavelength-to-Time Domain Multiplexing (W-TDM) measurements are enabled by Insight Photonic’s new ‘akinetically’ swept, all-semiconductor laser. This laser is a Vernier-Tuned Distributed Bragg Reflector (VT-DBR) device, capable of rapidly sweeping through different wavelengths without any moving parts. Attributes that make this laser superior to mechanically-swept lasers include: 1) short and long term consistent sweep-sweep reliability, 2) availability at many wavelengths, 3) a narrow linewidth with single longitudinal mode, and 4) the ability to do non-traditional sweep patterns that facilitate measurement of high-density sensor networks.

In this thesis, experiments will be performed in the lab with the Insight VT-DBR laser to determine how accurately the center wavelength of a single Fiber Bragg grating can be measured. Experiments will also be performed with two and three FBGs to compare different algorithmic approaches to measurements. The second part of the thesis will simulate both single and multiple FBG sensor environments, comparing the center wavelength measurement accuracy results for different parameters including signal-to-noise ratios, wavelength point density, FBG loss and width, and multiple algorithmic approaches. The results of these experiments and simulations will demonstrate how accurate a FBG sensor system is at particular parameters, which will be useful to those designing a sensor network or performing similar experiments.

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