All-optical signal processing based on four wave mixing (FWM) in a highly nonlinear fiber (HNLF) to enhance the sensitivity of a fiber sensor is demonstrated and comprehensively reviewed in this paper. The principle is based on the frequency chirp magnification (FCM) by FWM. Degenerated FWM, cascaded two-stage FWM and pump-pulsed FWM with optical parametric amplification (OPA) are experimentally utilized for magnifying the frequency chirp. By using the pump pulse modulation to increase the peak power, OPA can be induced with the use of a dispersion-optimized HNLF. Therefore, ultra-highly efficient FWM can be realized due to the high peak power and OPA. By using the fiber Bragg grating (FBG) laser as the FWM pump, the wavelength drift of the FBG can thus be magnified due to the FCM. We obtain a sensing performance of 13.3 pm/με strain sensitivity and 141.2 pm/°C temperature sensitivity for a conventional FBG, which has an intrinsic strain sensitivity of only ~1 pm/με and an intrinsic temperature sensitivity of only ~10 pm/°C, respectively.
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