Fibre interferometry for differential measurements
Smith, Martin Dignan
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This thesis investigates the use of interferometry as an interrogation technology for the measurement of differential length at two widely separate locations. Differential length measurements are essential and can have many applications in industrial processes, therefore accurate measurements can be a critical. Such differential length measurements can be applied to aspects of differential pressure. Using an all optical fibre approach, the research utilises the effects of light interference for both low coherent and high coherent light sources for the determination of a differential length between individual sensing cavities separated by up to 10’s of meters. The construction of the differential length interrogation system makes use of two Fabry-Perot cavities arranged in a tandem configuration, as a means of determining the differential length between them. Such an arrangement provides a common path through which an optical broadband light source at a central wavelength of 1550 nm can propagate. As a consequence of this configuration, differential lengths are made simply using one single measurement, removing the need to determine each individual length. An additional benefit of this common optical path prevents environmental factors such as temperature and air pressures from affecting the measurement length in question. Using a scanning reference Michelson interferometer to induce an optical path change, low coherence interference effects are present when the optical path length of the differential Fabry-Perot cavities is equal to the optical path length difference in the Michelson interferometer. Using a separate DFB laser light source to illuminate the reference interferometer high coherence interference fringes, present when the optical path length of one interferometer arm is changing due to a piezo fibre stretcher, can be analysed to provide an accurate length determination. Taking into consideration the noise within the system the interrogation technique has a length measurement resolution of 27.43 nm. Demonstrations show that a differential length of 82.539 μm could be measured with an uncertainty of 41.00 nm. Through the characterisation of a deformable silicon diaphragm, it would be possible to construct a sensing system capable of measuring a differential pressure of 1 Pa in 100 kPa. This however would require a 9.13 mm thick diaphragm, with a radius of 0.35 m. Such a diaphragm would be out of the question and so further investigation into reducing the length measurement resolution would need to be carried out.