Optimal Fiber Optics

by Ken-An Lou, (M.ASCE), Research Engineer; Simula Technologies, Inc., 10016 S. 51st Street, Phoenix, AZ 85044-5299,
Phil Schaefer, Research Engineer; Sedona Scientific, Inc. 30 Kayenta Court, Sedona, AZ 86336,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 6, Pg. 62-63

Document Type: Feature article


Fiber optics, which played a crucial role in reinventing the telecommunications industry, have historically been noted for their potential in other facets of science and technology. Yet, expensive and difficult-to-use equipment kept fiber optics from meeting their potential. The authors of the article work for two firms striving to incorporate new low-cost fiber optic systems into different facets of the science industry. Through their research, they found that static applications in the field of engineering�such as using fiber optic sensors to test infrastructure�provided the perfect environment in which to test and develop fiber optic technology. Before they could apply their systems to the field of civil engineering, developers of fiber optic technology first had to produce cost-efficient, user-friendly products. To keep prices down, fiber optic sensor systems are now made using low-cost digital electronics such as LED screens and broad-band light-emitting diodes for simplified monitoring. Also, systems have been developed that allow easy interfacing with a PC through low-level software. To test this new wave of fiber optic technology, the authors conducted strain tests of a laboratory bridge column using embedded fiber optic sensors. The sensors not only matched the performance of conventional strain gauges, but also offered such benefits as more comprehensive data and noncorrosive, easy-to-install system components.

Subject Headings: Fabrics | Probe instruments | Bridge tests | Benefit cost ratios | Strain | Laboratory tests | Industries

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