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Sensors 2013, 13(9), 11956-11968; doi:10.3390/s130911956

Characterization of Flexible Copolymer Optical Fibers for Force Sensing Applications

Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Laboratory for Protection and Physiology, Lerchenfeldstrasse 5, St. Gallen 9014, Switzerland
ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Gloriastrasse 35, Zurich 8092, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 July 2013 / Revised: 20 August 2013 / Accepted: 4 September 2013 / Published: 9 September 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photonic Sensors for Industrial, Environmental and Health Monitoring)
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In this paper, different polymer optical fibres for applications in force sensing systems in textile fabrics are reported. The proposed method is based on the deflection of the light in fibre waveguides. Applying a force on the fibre changes the geometry and affects the wave guiding properties and hence induces light loss in the optical fibre. Fibres out of three different elastic and transparent copolymer materials were successfully produced and tested. Moreover, the influence of the diameter on the sensing properties was studied. The detectable force ranges from 0.05 N to 40 N (applied on 3 cm of fibre length), which can be regulated with the material and the diameter of the fibre. The detected signal loss varied from 0.6% to 78.3%. The fibres have attenuation parameters between 0.16–0.25 dB/cm at 652 nm. We show that the cross-sensitivies to temperature, strain and bends are low. Moreover, the high yield strength (0.0039–0.0054 GPa) and flexibility make these fibres very attractive candidates for integration into textiles to form wearable sensors, medical textiles or even computing systems.
Keywords: force sensor; optical fibres; sensitive force sensor; flexible light guide force sensor; optical fibres; sensitive force sensor; flexible light guide
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Krehel, M.; Rossi, R.M.; Bona, G.-L.; Scherer, L.J. Characterization of Flexible Copolymer Optical Fibers for Force Sensing Applications. Sensors 2013, 13, 11956-11968.

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