We demonstrate a simple and efficient technique that allows for a complete characterization of silica-based tapered optical fibers with sub-wavelength diameters ranging from 0.5 μm to 1.2 μm. The technique is based on Brillouin reflectometry using a single-ended heterodyne detection. It has a high precision sensitivity down to 1% owing to the strong dependence of the Brillouin spectrum on the taper diameter. We further investigate the tensile strain dependence of the Brillouin spectrum for an optical microfiber up to 5% of elongation. The results show strong dependences of several Brillouin resonances with different strain coefficients ranging from 290 MHz/% to 410 MHz/% with a specific nonlinear deviation at high strain. Those results therefore show that optical micro and nanofibers could find potential application for sensitive strain optical sensing.
Fabrication and characterization of submicron optical waveguides is one of the major challenges in modern photonics, as they find many applications from optical sensors to plasmonic devices. Here we report on a novel technique that allows for a complete and precise characterization of silica optical nanofibers. Our method relies on the Brillouin backscattering spectrum analysis that directly depends on the waveguide geometry. Our method was applied to several fiber tapers with diameter ranging from 500 nm to 3 μm. Results were compared to scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images and numerical simulations with very good agreement and similar sensitivity.