Development of a non-monochromatic lightwave sensor for applications in smart structures research
Kahn, Mohammed Tariq Ekeramodien
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The purpose of this study was to perform an investigation into advances in the field of opto-electronics and to develop a suitable lightwave sensor, for application in smart structures research. Included in the scope of this research was the theoretical development and analysis of an appropriate technology to lead to an implementation of such sensors. This project forms part of an overall plan to gain experience in optoelectronic (photonic) sensor design. In research done previously in smart structure monitoring, piezo-electric techniques with the usual electrical interconnections was used. In a highly distributed sensor system the problems of electromagnetic interference, the tribo-electric effect and noise could be problematic. In this research, opto electronic techniques were thoroughly researched and an improvement on laser based fibre-optic interferometers was made. A non monochromatic lightwave interferometer was developed from theory and a prototype tested. The results suggests that an interferometric sensor can be operated with a non monochromatic source by using a second interferometer to modulate the frequency spectrum of the light before it is detected by a photodetector. Various test and measurement circuits for improved photodetector performance were evaluated, as well as a study of signal processing techniques that would be of use for an upgrade of the project where specific feature detection and analysis using the sensor is envisaged. A specification for a computer based data acquisition system was developed to do initial tests. The project should continue, with the sensor head being improved and all the necessary signal processing routines programmed into a Labview based data acquisition system.