Optical fibre sensors with applications in gas and biological sensing

Davies, Edward (2011). Optical fibre sensors with applications in gas and biological sensing. PHD thesis, Aston University.


This thesis describes the study of various grating based optical fibre sensors for applications in refractive index sensing. The sensitivity of these sensors has been studied and in some cases enhanced using novel techniques. The major areas of development are as follows. The sensitivity of long period gratings (LPGs) to surrounding medium refractive index (SRI) for various periods was investigated. The most sensitive period of LPG was found to be around 160 µm and this was due to the core mode coupling to a single cladding mode but phase matching at two wavelength locations, creating two attenuation peaks, close to the waveguide dispersion turning point. Large angle tilted fibre gratings (TFGs) have similar behaviour to LPGs, in that they couple to the co-propagating cladding modes. The tilted structure of the index modulation within the core of the fibre gives rise to a polarisation dependency, differing the large angle TFG from a LPG. Since the large angle TFG couple to the cladding mode they are SRI sensitive, the sensitivity to SRI can be further increased through cladding etching using HF acid. The thinning of the cladding layer caused a reordering of the cladding modes and shifted to more SRI sensitive cladding modes as the investigation discovered. In a SRI range of 1.36 to 1.40 a sensitivity of 506.9 nm/URI was achieved for the etched large angle TFG, which is greater than the dual resonance LPG. UV inscribed LPGs were coated with sol-gel materials with high RIs. The high RI of the coating caused an increase in cladding mode effective index which in turn caused an increase in the LPG sensitivity to SRI. LPGs of various periods of LPG were coated with sol-gel TiO2 and the optimal thickness was found to vary for each period. By coating of the already highly SRI sensitive 160µm period LPG (which is a dual resonance) with a sol-gel TiO2, the SRI sensitivity was further increased with a peak value of 1458 nm/URI, which was an almost 3 fold increase compared to the uncoated LPG. LPGs were also inscribed using a femtosecond laser which produced a highly focused index change which was no uniform throughout the core of the optical fibre. The inscription technique gave rise to a large polarisation sensitivity and the ability to couple to multiple azimuthal cladding mode sets, not seen with uniform UV inscribed gratings. Through coupling of the core mode to multiple sets of cladding modes, attenuation peaks with opposite wavelength shifts for increasing SRI was observed. Through combining this opposite wavelength shifts, a SRI sensitivity was achieved greater than any single observed attenuations peak. The maximum SRI achieved was 1680 nm/URI for a femtosecond inscribed LPG of period 400 µm. Three different types of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensors with a multilayer metal top coating were investigated in D shape optical fibre. The sensors could be separated into two types, utilized a pre UV inscribed tilted Bragg grating and the other employed a post UV exposure to generate surface relief grating structure. This surface perturbation aided the out coupling of light from the core but also changed the sensing mechanism from SPR to localised surface plasmon resonance (LSPR). This greatly increased the SRI sensitivity, compared to the SPR sensors; with the gold coated top layer surface relief sensor producing the largest SRI sensitivity of 2111.5nm/URI was achieved. While, the platinum and silver coated top layer surface relief sensors also gave high SRI sensitivities but also the ability to produce resonances in air (not previously seen with the SPR sensors). These properties were employed in two applications. The silver and platinum surface relief devices were used as gas sensors and were shown to be capable of detecting the minute RI change of different gases. The calculated maximum sensitivities produced were 1882.1dB/URI and 1493.5nm/URI for silver and platinum, respectively. Using a DFB laser and power meter a cheap alternative approach was investigated which showed the ability of the sensors to distinguish between different gases and flow rates of those gases. The gold surface relief sensor was coated in a with a bio compound called an aptamer and it was able to detect various concentrations of a biological compound called Thrombin, ranging from 1mM to as low as 10fM. A solution of 2M NaCl was found to give the best stripping results for Thrombin from the aptamer and showed the reusability of the sensor. The association and disassociation constants were calculated to be 1.0638×106Ms-1 and 0.2482s-1, respectively, showing the high affinity of the Aptamer to thrombin. This supports existing working stating that aptamers could be alternative to enzymes for chemical detection and also helps to explain the low detection limit of the gold surface relief sensor.

Divisions: Engineering & Applied Sciences
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fibre optic,UV and femtosecond gratings,surface plasmon resonance,gas/biological sensing
Completed Date: 2011-05



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