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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C014731/1
Title: Photoinscription of diffracting structures in polymer optical fibre
Principal Investigator: Webb, Professor DJ
Other Investigators:
Bennion, Professor I
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Engineering and Applied Science
Organisation: Aston University
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 December 2005 Ends: 31 May 2009 Value (£): 227,480
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optical Communications Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Optical fibres are used to transmit light over distances of up to several hundred kilometres. A typical optical fibre consists of a cylindrical glass core, just a few micrometres in diameter, surrounded by a layer of a slightly different type of glass known as the cladding. Light in the core travels slightly slower than light in the cladding and this property tends to keep any light sent into the core from one end of the fibre from leaking out, until it reaches the far end.Over the last decade, a great deal of effort has been devoted to developing techniques for optically modifying the structure of the core. Usually these modifications are made periodically along the axis of the core, the period being from less than 1 micrometre for devices known as fibre Bragg gratings (FBGs), and up to several hundred microns, for long period gratings (LPGs). FBGs have the effect of reflecting back down the fibre one particular wavelength of light while allowing others to pass unhindered, while LPGs cause several different wavelengths to be lost from the fibre, again allowing other wavelengths to pass through. These kind of devices are now being used in telecommunication systems, where their filtering properties can be used to separate out or block communication channels closely spaced in wavelength. They are also increasingly being used in sensing systems, because the precise wavelength that is blocked is affected by the temperature of the fibre containing the FBG, or any force applied to that fibre.The purpose of the proposed research is firstly to study the fundamentals of recording FBGs and LPGs in optical fibres made out of plastic rather than glass, and then to go on to explore the potential applications of these devices. The reason for wanting to carry out this research stems from the fact that the physical properties of plastic optical fibre (POF) are rather different to those of glass fibre: POF can survive much higher strains than glass fibre; temperature sensors based on POF will be about 30 times more sensitive than glass fibre, and POF is much more biocompatible than glass fibre. This last point means that it should be much easier and safer to develop sensors for use inside the body during minimally invasive key-hole surgery. Additionally, there are many possibilities for carrying out chemical modifications to plastic materials to change their properties which cannot be applied to glass fibre.
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Organisation Website: http://www.aston.ac.uk