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Fiber-Optic Sensor Principles


  1. Kara Peters

Published Online: 15 SEP 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470061626.shm023

Encyclopedia of Structural Health Monitoring

Encyclopedia of Structural Health Monitoring

How to Cite

Peters, K. 2009. Fiber-Optic Sensor Principles. Encyclopedia of Structural Health Monitoring. .

Author Information

  1. North Carolina State University, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Raleigh, NC, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2009


This article presents the fundamental principles common to all optical fiber sensors, as well as general issues concerning their application to structural health monitoring systems. More detailed descriptions of specific optical fiber sensors can be found in Intensity-, Interferometric-, and Scattering-based Optical-fiber Sensors and Fiber Bragg Grating Sensors. Lightwave propagation through an optical fiber is described with an emphasis on mode propagation constants and energy distributions. The four primary sensing mechanisms exploiting these parameters are presented: intensity, phase, spectrum, and polarization encoding. Common sensor uses for different optical fiber types are presented including single-mode, multimode, high-birefringence, and polymer optical fibers. Commonly applied laser sources are also described. Finally, the integration of optical fiber sensors into structural components is discussed including the strength and attenuation properties of the optical fibers themselves. Included are methods for embedment in composite laminates and concrete structures, the strain transfer between the host structure and the embedded sensor, and the integrity of composite structures with embedded optical fiber sensor networks.


  • optical fiber sensor;
  • strain sensor;
  • temperature sensor;
  • pressure sensor;
  • composite laminate;
  • concrete infrastructure