Abstract

We describe a fiber-optic relative-humidity (RH) sensor comprising a moisture-sensitive overlay on a single-mode side-polished fiber. The hygroscopic polymeric material deposited was polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), which proved to have good adherence and stability. The film reached a fast equilibrium with atmospheric moisture (in less than 1 min), inducing changes in the output optical power of ∼10 dB for the 70%–90% RH range. To yield a low-cost device, single-mode standard communication fibers were used; therefore all the components of the sensor can be commercial, mass-produced telecommunication devices. The experimental results obtained are consistent with the expected behavior of the system; the output power decreases because of losses in the polished region of the fiber as the refractive index of its external medium approaches the fiber core value. Because the external medium is PVA film, its refractive index changes in response to its water content.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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