A sensitivity-enhanced optical fiber refractive index sensor based on inline Mach-Zehnder interferometer is proposed. The sensor head is formed by splicing a tapered thin-core diameter fiber between two sections of single mode fibers. The taper (less than 1 mm) plays an important role in improving the sensitivity of the sensor. The sensitivity of refractive index is measured to be 0.447 nm for a 1% change of refractive index in the typical refractive index range of 1.333-1.3725. The whole fabrication process (including splicing and tapering) can be operated by a commercial fiber splicing machine. The proposed sensor also shows the merits of simple structure, low cost, and easy fabrication.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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