Today the problem of the efficiency and safety improvement in different fields of optical fiber application, for example, in aerospace, civil engineering, transportation, oil and gas, renewable energy, and medicine. Thus, the researchers from NASA’s research center demonstrate a new lightweight, reliable fiber optic sensing system that is considered to be the main advancement in optical sensing technology.
The potential fiber optic application of the fiber sensors combined with NASA’s complex algorithms includes the calculation of different crucial parameters containing shape, stress, temperature, pressure, strength, and operational load. This modern highly advanced sensing system has a compact size, lightweight, easy installation and quick processing of data information at rates of 100 times per second.
It is the first time when the optical sensing technology for the strain measurement in real-time can be applied to detect the shape of an aircraft’s wing, control the structural integrity of bridges and pipelines, or provide accurate placement of the tiniest catheters, to enumerate just a few fiber optic applications.
The following advantages of fiber optic sensors should be noted:
- Reliability: fiber sensors are able to resist radiation and electromagnetic/radio frequency interference.
- Easy installation: faster installation than traditional strain gauges and in places difficult to access.
- Non-intrusive fiber optic technology due to the use of an optical fiber that does not influence productivity.
- Complex data: the calculation of shape, stress, temperature, pressure, strength, and operational load parameters.
- Compact size and light weight of the fiber device due to practically weightless fiber optic sensors and tiny hardware.
- High resolution: possibility to install thousands of fiber sensors at half-inch intervals for more complete imaging than previously.
- Fast data processing.
Thus, fiber optic sensors find numerous application in such spheres as aerospace for the sensing of shape and structural health monitoring; medicine for controlling medical robotics, special devices MRI machines, and radioactive environments; automotive industry for improved safety and productivity; oil and gas for the leak detection, controlling of pipelines and downhole drilling, etc.
Finally, this new fiber optic technology predominates traditional strain gauges because the last-mentioned are heavy, bulky, placed at distant intervals (consequently, they offer lower resolution imaging), and can not carry out real-time measurements while the advanced fiber optic sensors overcome the limits.
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