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Optical sensing and measurement is the name given to a relatively new group of sensing/measurement technologies based on light and optical fibre, rather than electricity and copper wire as used in conventional electrical sensors.

The most broadly deployed of these new optical technologies is the Fibre Bragg Grating (FBG) sensor.  Optical sensing complements, rather than replaces, the need for conventional electrical sensing, by allowing measurements to be made in circumstances that can prove challenging or impossible for electrical systems.


The Benefits of Optical Sensors

Optical sensing is inherently immune to electromagnetic interference and transmission losses that can limit electrical systems.  Optical sensors contain no electrical or moving mechanical parts, which means that they are also inherently less susceptible to damage or degradation in harsh environments.  Large numbers of optical sensors (up to 160) can be embedded in a single optical fibre cable, which can significantly reduce installation and maintenance costs vs deploying similar numbers of conventional electrical sensors.  Use optical sensing techniques when:

  • Making measurements over distances that would lead to unacceptable transmission losses in an electrical system, from 10s of metres to 10s of kilometres;
  • Signals may be subject to high/unacceptable levels of electromagnetic interference;
  • The measurement system could be exposed to sources of electrical damage such as a lightning strike;
  • The sensors are deployed to intrinsically safe work areas;
  • Making long-term measurements in harsh environments that would degrade conventional electrical sensors and/or where service access is limited; and
  • The number of deployed sensors is such that the installation/maintenance costs of the electrical system become prohibitive.

Where none of these conditions apply, conventional electrical sensing is still likely to be the most cost-effective measurement technique.


A Full-Service Provider of Optical Sensing Solutions

ICON Technologies is a full-service provider of complete optical sensing and measurement systems, including sensors, optical measurement and distribution cables, Interrogator hardware, and application software for the acquisition, analysis, and display of optical measurement data.  We bring together the best FBG components from our technology partners Micron Optics and FBGS to offer you a “one-stop-shop” for the design, supply and deployment of optical measurement systems.