The first publication on the sensing potential for side-written Bragg gratings in optical fiber appeared as a patent PCT publication by the Meltz et al. group from UTC in 1986. In the 30 years that have followed, we have seen an extraordinary series of developments in fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensor technology, taking it from early conceptual laboratory demonstrations to powerful commercial distributed sensing platforms, with many companies now developing and marketing FBG systems and ‘interrogator’ units. This paper will review this history, highlight some of the key developments in the sensing capabilities developed and touch on some truly novel applications of the technology. The paper will also review more recent applications based on the use of extremely weak draw-tower written grating arrays that exploit the unique properties of Bragg gratings in ways to enable creative & differentiated sensing capabilities.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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