Researchers have developed a new ultrasensitive optical sensing instrument that could benefit science, medicine, and engineering. It is known as a Mach Zehnder-Fabry Perot (MZ-FP) hybrid fiber interferometer. It combines the benefits of the two types of interferometers currently available, making it compact and highly sensitive.
Interferometers are precision measuring devices that work by creating a measurable interference pattern between two streams of light, similar to the collision of two sets of waves in a pond created by throwing in two stones.
The MZ-FP interferometer’s testing achieved unprecedented strain resolutions across a wide frequency range.
The study outlines a possible path toward achieving unprecedented strain resolutions for passive fiber sensors. Such sensing resolution will enable fiber-optic sensors to detect much weaker signals than they can now, greatly expanding the applications of fiber-optic sensors.
The hybrid interferometer has a resolution of one femto-strain, which means it can detect changes of one billionth of a micrometer out of one meter. The new interferometer’s main feature is its unprecedentedly high signal resolution.
The instrument’s ability to detect weak signals previously undetectable by existing technologies makes it useful for many applications. It opens up possibilities such as early earthquake prediction, monitoring weapons of mass destruction, detecting glacier motion for climate change research, and acoustic medical diagnosis.