Optical preamplification has been used in a fiber-optic distributed temperature sensor based on spontaneous Brillouin scattering and the use of direct detection, resulting in improved signal-to-noise ratios. The fiber-based optical preamplifier system comprises a three-port circulator, an erbium-doped fiber amplifier with a small-signal gain of 27 dB, and a fiber Bragg grating with 47-GHz bandwidth. An improvement of 17 dB in the optical signal-to-noise ratio for the Brillouin signal is demonstrated in a 23-km sensor. The limit to the signal-to-noise ratio is attributed to spontaneous–spontaneous beat noise generated at the photodetector by amplified spontaneous emission from the optical amplifier.
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