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Piping light to the heart of machines

01 February 2023

In 1854, the celebrated Irish Physicist John Tyndall observed how light could be made to travel in an arcing stream of water. The discovery established the principle of ‘total internal reflection’, that light energy can be ‘piped’ to a destination, through a highly refractive material.

Tyndall’s discovery paved the way for the field of fibre optics and the ability to send signals through fibres no wider than a human hair. One field to develop has been fibre-optic sensors, whose unique capabilities are helping scientists to conquer new frontiers all over the world.

In fibre-optic sensors, light is transmitted along a central core, which made of a single filament of either glass or polymer, surrounded by a less refractive and protective sheath, and a robust outer housing. The light is emitted from the end of the core, at an angle of around 60 degrees. 
The fibre is the optical component that transfers the sender light from the amplifier, back to a receiver in the amplifier. The amplifier transmits, receives and evaluates the light signal, as well as enabling the sensing parameters to be adjusted. 

Read the full article in DPA's February issue

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