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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.

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 typically contain significantly fewer internal components, connections, and moving mechanical parts than electromechanical sensors. They have fewer failure modes, and no internal electrical potentials that might accelerate corrosion, which means that they are less susceptible to damage or degradation from long-term exposure to harsh environments.

Large numbers of optical sensors of mixed type (up to 160) can be embedded in a single optical fibre cable, which can significantly reduce installation and maintenance costs vs deploying similar numbers and types 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 or 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 and/or mix of sensor types 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 an authorised sales and integration partner for some of the world’s most innovative suppliers of fibre optic measurement technology:

  • Luna/Micron Optics: Pioneer of FBG technology with the industry’s most complete range of interrogators and sensors
  • Technobis: Supplier of rugged low-power interrogators especially suited to deployment in harsh industrial environments
  • Somni Solutions: Supplier of FBG accelerometers and other specialist FBG sensors
  • Cleveland Electric Labs: Supplier of specialist fibre-optic sensors for industrial and security applications
  • FBGS: Manufacturer of standard and custom multi-sensor fibre measurement cables

We are 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. Systems can be stand-alone, or integrated into a traditional electromechanical measurement network.