Fiber optic technology has radically changed how we transmit information, allowing for signals to be relayed in the form of light pulses within glass, plastic strands, or fibers. As compared to conventional copper wiring, the speed, bandwidth, and distance capabilities that fiber optic devices provide are immensely higher and have not even reached their full potential in some applications. While many may be familiar with fiber optic internet or other similar implementations of fiber optic technology, others may not be aware of its growing importance in the realm of sensing. With fiber optical sensors, the physical properties of light may be used for the detection of temperature changes, strain, and other quantifiable conditions.
While optical sensors may vary by type, they typically depend upon a light source, optical fiber, transducer, and a detector for their operations. Depending upon the application and the design of fiber optic components, optical fibers may either serve as the sensing element itself or may simply relay a signal from a remote sensor to the device which processes it. When an optical sensor device is of the latter type, it is known as an extrinsic sensor. Intrinsic sensors, meanwhile, are the type in which the optical fiber is the sensor itself, and they measure various quantifiable conditions through the modification of a fiber. Through this process, the quantity of a measurement will affect the intensity, polarization, phase, wavelength, and transmission time of traveling light so that a reading may be obtained. Intrinsic fiber sensors can be beneficial over their counterparts as they do not require external interfaces for their functionality, thus lowering both their complexity and cost.
When the optical sensor is extrinsic, an optical fiber cable such as a multimode type is employed for the transmission of modulated light from a sensor attached to an optical transmitter. While extrinsic types may be more complex, they permit measurements to be conducted in areas that are typically inaccessible by other devices, such as within an aircraft jet engine. They are also useful as temperature detector devices for electrical transformers, allowing for measurements to be obtained without the negative effects commonly associated with electromagnetic fields. Generally, extrinsic optical sensors are most beneficial for the measurement of vibration, displacement, rotation, acceleration, velocity, temperature, and torque.
With their provided functionalities and capabilities, a fiber optic sensor may be used for numerous applications in which various quantities are to be measured. For instance, some of the most common uses for fiber optic sensors is within oil & gas, pipeline, electric utility, structural health monitoring, and telecom cable applications. In such installations, the sensing element may detect fatigue, leaks, hot spots, thermal ratings, and other conditions.
While fiber optics are a technology that has only recently emerged in the last half of a century, the use and research of fibers for sensing applications dates back to the 1960s. As fiber optic sensors and devices become more widespread and obtainable, more organizations are finding their efficiency and cost-effectiveness to be much more beneficial than other alternatives. Looking towards the future, many researchers are also exploring the possibility of using fiber optic sensors for new avenues, including the development of smart cities and the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT).
As fiber optic sensors pose a benefit to sensing applications and can provide higher performance over more traditional components, they can be very useful for many industries, devices, and more. At One Click Purchasing, we serve as a leading supplier of fiber optic sensors and other electronic devices that have been sourced from top global manufacturers that we trust. Whether you are searching for parts that are new, used, or obsolete, we have you covered with our expansive inventory of parts and market expertise. If you would like to receive a competitive quote for your comparisons, fill out and submit an RFQ form as provided on our website and a dedicated account manager will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less upon receipt of your request.
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