Over the last two decades, the use of optical fibres has revolutionised the way the world exchanges and processes information. Optical fibres, replacing copper wires as the transmission medium, are capable of handling 25 trillion bits of data per second across oceans, to our streets, hospitals, schools and businesses, providing high-speed communications that impacts all facets of modern life.
In parallel with astonishing advances in communications, optical fibres now underpin another of today’s fastest growing technology sectors, based on sensing and metrology. Smart optical fibre sensors with functions superior to their conventional counterparts, or providing wholly new functions, are capable of measuring and detecting a wide range of physical and chemical/biochemical properties and are being used for structure health monitoring across numerous industrial sectors including military, aerospace, maritime, civil, oil and gas, power and nuclear, etc. Further dramatic advances are foreseen, which will provide many, further social and economic benefits.
This lecture will review the “smart” functions of optical fibres for communications and sensing, illustrated with some cutting edge examples drawn from the research activities of Photonics Research Group at Aston in this area.