A fiber-Bragg-grating (FBG) transverse-force sensor based on a wavelength-switching actively mode-locked erbium-doped fiber laser is proposed, in which a FBG is used as both the sensing element and the wavelength-selection element of the laser. When a force is applied to the FBG, the induced birefringence in the FBG causes the laser to emit pulses at two close wavelengths, whose separation is proportional to the applied force. To suppress the interference between the two wavelengths, the laser is made to emit at the two wavelengths alternately by use of a polarization-switching technique. The wavelength separation is converted into a time difference by transmission of the laser pulses through a dispersive single-mode fiber, so the wavelength measurement is replaced by the less-expensive time measurement. The output of the sensor is insensitive to temperature and axial strain changes along the FBG. To interrogate similar FBG sensing elements connected in series it is necessary only to change the modulating frequency of an electro-optic modulator to select the corresponding laser cavity. The practicability of this approach was demonstrated experimentally with two multiplexed sensing elements.
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