Abstract

The optical unbalanced Mach–Zehnder interferometer (UMZI) has attracted significant interests for interrogation of FBG sensors owing to its excellent advantages in sensitivity, resolution, and demodulation speed. But this method is still limited to dynamic measurements due to its poor stability and reliability when used for quasi-static detections. Here, we propose for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, a radio-frequency unbalanced M–Z interferometer (RF-UMZI) for interrogation of FBG sensors, which, owing to its operation in an incoherent rather than a coherent regime, provides an ideal solution for the existing stability problem of the conventional UMZI, with remarkable features of adjustable resolution and potentially extremely high sensitivity. A dispersion compensation fiber (DCF) and single-mode fiber (SMF) with a small length difference are served as the two unbalanced arms of the RF interferometer. The induced differential chromatic dispersion transfers the wavelength shift of the FBG to the change of the RF phase difference between the two interferometric carriers, which ultimately leads to the variation of the RF signal intensity. An interrogation of a strain-turned FBG was accomplished and a maximum sensitivity of 0.00835a.u./με was obtained, which can easily be further improved by more than two orders of magnitude through various fiber dispersion components. Finally, the stability of the interrogation was tested.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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