Abstract

A bending sensor is demonstrated using the combination of a mode-selective photonic lantern (PL) and a multicore fiber. A short section of three-core fiber with strongly coupled cores is used as the bend sensitive element. The supermodes of this fiber are highly sensitive to the refractive index profiles of the cores. Small bend-induced changes result in drastic changes of the supermodes, their excitation, and interference. The multicore fiber is spliced to a few-mode fiber and excites bend dependent amounts of each of the six linearly polarized (LP) modes guided in the few-mode fiber. A mode selective PL is then used to demultiplex the modes of the few-mode fiber. Relative power measurements at the single-mode PL output ports reveal a high sensitivity to bending curvature and differential power distributions according to bending direction, without the need for spectral measurements. High direction sensitivity is demonstrated experimentally as well as in numerical simulations. Relative power shifts of up to 80% have been measured at radii of approximately 20 cm, and good sensitivity was observed with radii as large as 10 m, making this sensing system useful for applications requiring both large and small curvature measurements.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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