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Probing the Ultimate Limit of Fiber-Optic Strain Sensing

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Science  19 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6007, pp. 1081-1084
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195818

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Abstract

The measurement of relative displacements and deformations is important in many fields such as structural engineering, aerospace, geophysics, and nanotechnology. Optical-fiber sensors have become key tools for strain measurements, with sensitivity limits ranging between 10−9 and 10−6ε hertz (Hz)–1/2 (where ε is the fractional length change). We report on strain measurements at the 10−13ε-Hz–1/2 level using a fiber Bragg-grating resonator with a diode-laser source that is stabilized against a quartz-disciplined optical frequency comb, thus approaching detection limits set by thermodynamic phase fluctuations in the fiber. This scheme may provide a route to a new generation of strain sensors that is entirely based on fiber-optic systems, which are aimed at measuring fundamental physical quantities; for example, in gyroscopes, accelerometers, and gravity experiments.

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