Nav: Home

Photoshop filters for safer bridges

March 01, 2016

How can we constantly monitor the stability of a bridge or detect a leak in a gas pipeline in real time? A method based on optical fibers has become the norm in recent years. By carefully measuring the path of light in fibers up to 100 kilometers long, we can glean information on the temperature, pressure and intensity of magnetic fields along the entire length of the fiber. It's similar to a nerve, which tells us the intensity and location of a stimulus.

But this method is nearing its limits. Depending on the planned use, it's necessary to sacrifice length, accept a lower resolution or add more equipment - a costly undertaking.

One hair, a million measurements

Thanks to the work done by EPFL's Group for Fibre Optics (GFO), it will now be possible to maintain an extremely fine resolution even when the fiber gets longer. "We have no trouble getting a million measurement points from one optical fiber the width of a hair, for a resolution of one centimeter over 10 kilometers," said Luc Thévenaz, the director of GFO. That's 100 times more precise than current techniques.

Measurements made with this type of instrument have to be processed, because they include 'parasites'. But the ratio between useful signals and noise cannot go below a certain threshold, otherwise the measurements will not be reliable.

Graphic arts to the rescue

The EPFL researchers were able to boost this ratio significantly by borrowing a technology from an entirely different field: graphic arts. "The values collected from these measurement points on the fiber can be represented as a matrix of pixels - a two-dimensional image," said Dr. Thévenaz. "By applying standard graphic filters to this image, like those found in Photoshop, we were able to reduce the noise inherent in this measurement technique very effectively and identify the desired values more precisely."

Pursuing this logic further, his teams also transformed more complex measurements, which take into account several parameters simultaneously, into video sequences. Here again, the magic of 'standard' video filters was at work.

In Dr. Thévenaz's view, these advances, which are described in articles appearing simultaneously in Light: Science & Applications - Nature and Nature Communications, bring the field of distributed optical fiber sensors into a new era simply by using software techniques. This approach is, by definition, less expensive than adding more measuring devices.
-end-


Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Related Optical Fiber Articles:

Rochester researchers document an optical fiber beyond compare
A new anti-resonant hollow core optical fiber produces a thousand times less ''noise'' interfering with signals it transmits compared to the single-mode fibers now widely used.
Brazilian researcher creates an ultra-simple inexpensive method to fabricate optical fiber
The conventional process requires costly large-scale equipment. The novel method can be executed in a single step by a device no larger than a microwave oven.
How bacteria adhere to fiber in the gut
Researchers have revealed a new molecular mechanism by which bacteria adhere to cellulose fibers in the human gut.
Brazilian researchers develop an optical fiber made of gel derived from marine algae
Edible, biocompatible and biodegradable, these fibers have potential for various medical applications.
A survey on optical memory and optical RAM technologies
The ability to store with light and built promising optical memories has been an intriguing research topic for more than two decades.
All-fiber optical wavelength converter
Wavelength conversion in all-fiber structure has extensive applications in new fiber-laser sources, signal processing, and multi-parameter sensors.
New design could make fiber communications more energy efficient
Researchers say a new discovery on a US Army project for optoelectronic devices could help make optical fiber communications more energy efficient.
Hollow-core fiber technology closes in on mainstream optical fiber
searchers from the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics at the University of Southampton have demonstrated a new leap in hollow-core fibre performance, underlining the technology's potential to soon eclipse current optical fibres.
Long-distance fiber link poised to create powerful networks of optical clocks
An academic-industrial team in Japan has connected three laboratories in a 100-kilometer region with an optical telecommunications fiber network stable enough to remotely interrogate optical atomic clocks.
Looking outside the fiber: Researchers demonstrate new concept of optical fiber sensors
Researchers have demonstrated a new concept of optical fiber sensors that addresses a decades-long challenge: the distributed mapping of refractive index outside the cladding of standard fiber, where light does not reach.
More Optical Fiber News and Optical Fiber Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.