The first wave of R&D on fibre optics in sensing applications lasted 20 years and is summarised. Safety related R&D has continued and the most recent results are presented. It has long been appreciated that a suitable component infrastructure for sensing has not yet been realised, and this is probably a significant part of the explanation for the relatively modest commercial impact ofthis technology at the present time. In the first wave, the significance of white light interferometry was identified, and the potential of silicon as a substrate for integrated optics was stimulated as much by communications as sensing needs. The important discovery of fibre Bragg gratings was made. Subsequent global efforts at commercialisation have been admirable, but are not yet major in business terms. Distributed sensing has rather plodded along, though some progress is being made. It is argued that we are now on the leading edge of a second wave of development in fibre optic sensing. The emphasis in this wave is not sensing principles but the adaptation and employment ofthe components and signal processing methods being facilitated by the huge wave of commercialisation in optoelectronics which is currently occurnng, primarily stimulated by the Internet explosion. For sensing systems it is judged that silicon ridge waveguide technology has the potential to create a standardised approach to optical sensing, in concept not dissimilar from the familiar standardised analogue electronic signal and transmission means (e.g. 4-20 mA).
"Enabling infrastructure for an enhancement of the prospects of fiber optic sensors", Proc. SPIE 4204, Fiber Optic Sensor Technology II, (1 March 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.417407; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.417407