Distinctive advantages give optical sensors the edge over conventional systems

Palo Alto, Calif. --August 13, 2003--Fiber-optic sensors offer a wide spectrum of advantages over traditional sensing systems, such as small size and longer lifetime. Immunity to electromagnetic interference, amenability to multiplexing, and high sensitivity make fiber optics the sensor technology of choice in several fields, including the healthcare and aerospace sectors.

Optical systems require physically smaller media for representing information than is required by magnetic or electronic systems. This requirement gives them an edge over conventional devices. The greater bandwidth of optics enables delivery of more data, which is useful for high-speed data transmission or high-resolution video transmission.

"Optical sensors are not only replacing conventional sensors in many areas in science, engineering, and medicine but researchers are also creating new kinds of sensors that have unique properties," notes Technical Insights Analyst Joe Constance. "These properties relate to the ability of the sensors to measure physical, chemical, and biological phenomena."

Electromagnetic interference can corrupt data transmitted from a conventional thermocouple. Fiber-optic sensors, on the other hand, show greater resistance than thermocouples to hostile environments and electromagnetic interference. These characteristics make them an ideal choice as temperature sensors in many applications. Scientists have been working on a fiber-optic sensor that measures temperature using a reflector, which can be used in industrial power plants, nuclear plant, aircrafts, and ships.

"Researchers are intent on further improving the bond between the fiber and the reflector, as well as reducing the required electronics for data acquisition and analysis," states Constance.

Recent advances in fiber optics and the numerous advantages of light over electronic systems have boosted the utility and demand for optical sensors in an array of industries. Environm

Contact: Julia Paulson
Technical Insights

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