An Introduction to Optical Measurement Chains Based on Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBG)

This article aims to help system integrators and engineers choose the right components for multi-physics optical monitoring solutions. This is crucial, as all major structures – such as bridges, buildings, pipelines, and tunnels – are exposed to factors that cause strain and degradation. Without reliable and accurate monitoring of strain, temperature and other physical parameters, malfunctions and structural issues might not be detected, resulting in disasters.

In the following, we’ll discuss structural health monitoring (SHM) as a discipline, and we’ll show you how a typical optical Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) based measurement chain – hosting several sensors in one optical fiber, interrogators, and PC software – can easily be designed.

Structural Health Monitoring – Preventing Failure instead of Repairing Damage

Large and expensive structures, such as tunnels, bridges, and pipelines, need regular, cost-effective monitoring of their structural integrity. This ensures safety and reliability.

Structural health monitoring (SHM) plays a critical role here [1], because it takes a proactive approach to maintenance and monitoring, rather than waiting for damage to happen and then repairing it. This proactive method can save money and prevent unplanned downtime of the structure.

But the need for reliable and accurate SHM installation in major infrastructure is often ignored for reasons such as cost, confusion over which sensors to use, and difficulty interpreting strain data. This becomes a problem when strain-induced structural damage happens. And it does happen regularly, since civil infrastructure is exposed to constant loads and environmental agents that cause wear and degradation over time.

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