Protection of public and military personnel from chemical and biological warfare agents is an urgent and growing national security need. Along with this idea, we have developed a novel class of fiber optic chemical sensors, for detection of toxic and biological materials. The design of these fiber optic sensors is based on a cladding modification approach. The original passive cladding of the fiber, in a small section, was removed and the fiber core was coated with a chemical sensitive material. Any change in the optical properties of the modified cladding material, due to the presence of a specific chemical vapor, changes the transmission properties of the fiber and result in modal power redistribution in multimode fibers. Both total intensity and modal power distribution (MPD) measurements were used to detect the output power change through the sensing fibers. The MPD technique measures the power changes in the far field pattern, i.e. spatial intensity modulation in two dimensions. Conducting polymers, such as polyaniline and polypyrrole, have been reported to undergo a reversible change in conductivity upon exposure to chemical vapors. It is found that the conductivity change is accompanied by optical property change in the material. Therefore, polyaniline and polypyrrole were selected as the modified cladding material for the detection of hydrochloride (HCl), ammonia (NH3), hydrazine (H4N2), and dimethyl-methl-phosphonate (DMMP) {a nerve agent, sarin stimulant}, respectively. Several sensors were prepared and successfully tested. The results showed dramatic improvement in the sensor sensitivity, when the MPD method was applied. In this paper, an overview on the developed class of fiber optic sensors is presented and supported with successful achieved results.

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About the Authors:

The authors are associated with Photonics, Inc. USA. http://www.photonicslabs.com/


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