Fiber Optic Sensing System Monitors Multiple Design Parameters in Real Time

A research team at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center has developed a revolutionary technology called Fiber Optics Sensing System (FOSS), a system that provides real time information on data used by designers. The technology's current uses are aircraft research and design and has potential applications beyond the aerospace industry. Driven by ultra-efficient algorithms, FOSS can be used to determine a variety of critical parameters, including strain, shape deformation, temperature, liquid level, strength, and operational loads. The system processes information at rates up to 5,000 times per second, representing a 1,000-fold improvement over conventional fiber optic technologies. In addition, it offers unprecedented levels of data density, as each 40-foot hair-like optical fiber provides up to 2,000 data points with adjustable spatial resolution. FOSS employs fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors and a combination of optical frequency domain reflectometry for high spatial resolution and wavelength division multiplexing for high acquisition speed, together with an interferometer technique that can simultaneously interrogate thousands of FBG sensors in a single fiber.