In this paper, we present the development and laboratory validation of in-line multiplexing for a low-coherence interferometric strain sensor suitable for industrial deployment and application to civil structures. The sensor is the multiplexed version of the standard SOFO, developed, produced and commercialized by Smartec SA. While the standard SOFO employs total reflectors at the end of the measurement and reference fibers, allowing measurement of the strain only over a single field, in the solution presented in-line multiplexing is obtained separating each measurement field by partial reflectors, consisting of broadband Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) with a 5% reflectivity. Laboratory tests have been carried out on a prototype 3-field sensor, to investigate effectiveness, resolution and temperature sensitivity. Outcomes show a linear response of the sensor with RMS resolution lower than 3 μm, independent of the measurement base, of the same order as the single field sensor. Consistently with the theoretical prediction, the system exhibits an apparent thermal expansion coefficient of 2 με °C-1, relatively low if compared with the thermal expansion coefficient of steel or concrete structures. This temperature dependency can even be eliminated by appropriate selection of the length of the reference fiber. Theoretical analysis indicates that the maximum number of fields that can be arranged in series is in the order of 10; however this limit can be overcome by appropriately selecting the power of the light source of the interrogation unit.
- fiber Bragg grating
- in-line multiplexing
- long gauge-length strain sensor
- temperature sensitivity