13 May 2015 A fiber-optic current sensor for lightning measurement applications
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Abstract
An optical-fiber sensor based on Faraday Effect is developed for measuring total lightning electric current. It has many unique capabilities not possible with traditional current sensors. Designed for aircraft installation, the sensor is lightweight, non-conducting, structure-conforming, and is immune to electromagnetic interference, hysteresis and saturation. It can also be used on windmills, lightning towers, and can help validate lightning detection network measurements. Faraday Effect causes light polarization to rotate when the fiber is exposed to a magnetic field in the direction of light propagation. Thus, the magnetic field strength can be determined from the light polarization change. By forming closed fiber loops and applying Ampere’s law, measuring the total light rotation yields the total current enclosed. The broadband, dual-detector, reflective polarimetric scheme allows measurement of both DC component and AC waveforms with about 60 dB dynamic range. Three sensor systems were built with different sensitivities from different laser wavelengths. Operating at 850nm, the first system uses twisted single-mode fiber and has a 150 A – 150 KA range. The second system operates at 1550nm, uses spun polarization maintaining fiber, and can measure 400 A - 400 KA. Both systems were validated with rocket-triggered lightning measurements and achieved excellent results when compared to a resistive shunt. The third system operates at 1310nm, uses spun polarization maintaining fiber, and can measure approximately 300 A - 300 KA. High current measurements up to 200 KA were demonstrated at a commercial lightning test facility. The system was recently installed on an aircraft and flown near icing weather conditions.
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Truong X. Nguyen, Jay J. Ely, George N. Szatkowski, "A fiber-optic current sensor for lightning measurement applications", Proc. SPIE 9480, Fiber Optic Sensors and Applications XII, 94800X (13 May 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2179195; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2179195
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