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The main focus of this thesis is on the design and development of novel fiber optic devices for relative humidity (RH) sensing with emphasis on high sensitivity, a wide humidity range, low temperature dependence, fast response time and good stability.
Novel RH sensors based on fiber bends are fabricated by coating the surface of the buffer stripped bent fiber with selected hygroscopic materials such as Polyethylene oxide or Agarose. It is shown that the Polyethylene oxide coated device has a high sensitivity in a narrow RH range while the Agarose coated fiber bend shows a linear RH sensitivity in a wide RH range. Both of these sensors demonstrate a fast response (in the order of milliseconds) to RH variations. The limitations of fiber bend based humidity sensors are also discussed in the thesis. A novel RH sensor based on a reflection type photonic crystal fiber interferometer (PCFI) is presented which does not rely on the use of any hygroscopic material. The operating principle of a PCFI sensor based on the adsorption and desorption of water vapour at the silica-air interface within the PCF capillaries is discussed. The demonstrated sensor shows a good RH sensitivity in the higher RH range. Furthermore this RH sensor is almost temperature independent and can also be used in a high temperature and high pressure environment for humidity sensing.
In order to improve the sensitivity of a reflection type PCFI over a wider RH range an alternative sensor is developed by infiltrating the microholes of the PCF with the hygroscopic material Agarose. The demonstrated novel sensor has a good sensitivity, a fast response time and a compact size. The temperature dependence of the device is also investigated. A novel hybrid device based on Agarose infiltrated PCFI interacting with a fiber Bragg grating is also presented which can simultaneously measure RH and temperature.
A novel RH sensor based on a transmission type photonic crystal fiber interferometer coated with Agarose is also presented and discussed. This structure is used to study the effect of Agarose coating thickness in such a sensor on the RH sensitivity. It is demonstrated that the RH sensitivity of the sensor has a significant dependence on the thickness of the coating. An experimental method is also demonstrated to select an optimum coating thickness to achieve the highest sensitivity for a given RH sensing range. The sensor with the highest demonstrated sensitivity shows a linear response in the RH ranges of 40-80 % and 80-95 % with a sensitivity of 0.57 nm/%RH and 1.43 nm/%RH respectively.
Finally, a comparison of the four RH sensing devices is presented, based on their size, operating range, RH sensitivity, temperature dependence and response time, in the context of selecting suitable devices for end-user applications. Two examples of applications are presented: dew sensing and breathing monitoring. The reflection type PCFI which does not use any hygroscopic material is selected for dew sensing and the dew response of the device is presented and discussed. Finally a novel breathing sensor based on the Agarose infiltrated PCFI is developed, which due to its immunity to interference from electric and magnetic fields, is suitable for breath monitoring of patients during medical procedures such as a magnetic resonance imaging scan.
Mathew, J. (2013) Development of Novel Fiber Optic Humidity Sensors and Their Derived Applications, Doctoral Thesis, Technological University Dublin. doi:10.21427/D7B89G