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Optical Fibre Nanowire Sensors

Tutorial 2d

Gilberto Brambilla
University of Southampton, UK

Tutorial Description:

This tutorial will present a review of sensors based on optical fibre nano-/micro-wires (OFNs).

In addition to the properties of conventional optical fibre sensors (such as remote operation and virtual immunity to electromagnetic interference) OFN sensors have the additional benefit of extreme compactness and can exhibit the ultimate sensitivity.

OFNs have recently attracted tremendous interest because of their extraordinary properties:
  1. Large Evanescent Fields: for small radii most of the light propagates outside the OFN physical boundary and interacts with the surrounding environment;

  2. Strong Confinement: light can be confined to spot-sizes of the order of 50nm, thus achieving extremely small sensing areas;

  3. Flexibility: OFNs can stand micrometric bending radii, providing the ultimate device compactness;

  4. Configurability: OFNs has the original optical fibre dimensions at their pigtails allowing for low-loss interconnection to fiberized components;

  5. Robustness: OFNs have a relatively high mechanical strength; in addition packaging techniques from conventional optical fibre technologies provide good manageability.

This tutorial will analyze a wide range of OFN sensors, ranging from microfluidic to refractometric, gas and chemical detection, humidity, temperature, atomic fluorescence, surface roughness, rotation, surface molecular absorption and biological components. OFN sensors can be broadly classified in three groups according to the property they exploit: evanescent field, extreme light confinement or high-Q resonanators. After a brief introduction on the properties of OFNs and OFN resonators, sensors based on OFN will be analyzed and their strengths and weaknesses discussed.

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