New Fiber Optic Gyroscope: More Precise, Smaller than a Grain of Rice

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have created the world’s smallest fiber optic gyroscope. Five hundred times smaller than a regular gyroscope, this new gyro can fit on a grain of rice. This research breakthrough could lead to more accurate fiber optic gyros compared to mechanical units.

 

WHAT OPTICAL GYROS DO

Advanced fiber optic navigation technology is critical for aircraft, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and ground vehicles. These machines and other platforms depend on fiber optic gyroscopes to operate safely.

 

HOW THEY DO THEY WORK?

A fiber optic gyroscope detects changes in position or direction using the Sagnac effect. In this way, an optical gyro functions similarly to a mechanical gyro. However, the optical gyro operates by using light passing through a coil of optical fiber.

 

Inside a typical optical gyroscope, a spooled-up optical fiber carries pulses of laser light. Some pulses move clockwise and others go counterclockwise. The gyro measures rotation by detecting tiny changes in how these pulses arrive at a sensor. Researchers have tried to create smaller optical gyros. However, as the size of the gyro shrinks, the signals from its sensor have grown weaker until they are drowned out by “noise” from scattered light.

 

WHAT THE TEAM DID

The Cal Tech research team designed a low-noise, photonic gyroscope. They etched light-guiding channels onto a two-square-millimeter silicon chip. These channels guide the light in each direction around a separate circle. This layout keeps scattered light from confusing the device’s sensors. The new design also reverses the light’s direction from time to time. This change helps to cancel out much of the related “noise.”

 

Optical gyroscopes that use the Sagnac effect to measure rotation could eventually be miniaturized onto nano-photonic platforms. However, thermal fluctuations, component drift and fabrication mismatch often limit the signal-to-noise ratio of these gyros. Because a microscale unit would have a weaker signal, researchers have not yet created an integrated nano-photonic fiber optic gyroscope.

OFS Salutes the International Day of Photonics

The International Day of Photonics is held every two years to recognize and promote the role of photonics in our world. On this day (October 21 in 2016), organizations work to raise awareness about photonics and the important role that it plays in our lives.

In fact, photonics is a key enabling technology for a wide range of products that surround us. LED lighting, photovoltaic solar energy, photonics integrated circuits, optical components, lasers, sensors, imaging, displays, projectors and optical fiber are only a few of today’s technologies that incorporate photonics.

At OFS, we design, manufacture and provide optical fiber, fiber optic cable, connectivity and fiber-to-the-subscriber (FTTx) products. Our solutions cover a broad range of applications including telecommunications, medicine, industrial automation, sensing, government, aerospace and defense.

To learn more about the International Day of Photonics and photonics technologies, please visit HERE.

Specialty Optical Fiber Coatings: Weathering the “Storm”

Different applications and optical fiber types present varying requirements for fiber coatings. When specialty optical fibers are used in demanding conditions, the fibers require coatings that are sustainable when subjected to harsh circumstances.

In fact, the successful deployment of fiber in these environments can often depend far more on the fiber’s protective external coating rather than its internal optical design. Fibers may be under attack from high and low temperature ranges, excessive humidity, high pressure, aggressive chemicals, mechanical interactions or any combination of these elements.

A recent OFS white paper in NASA Tech Briefs evaluates the stability of commercially available and in-house formulated, acrylate-based coatings to help determine the optimum coating for a range of conditions.  To read more, please go HERE.

Bandwidth of Avionics Cables – OM3 vs OM4

FlightLink™ Avionics Cables
FlightLink™ Avionics Cables

OFS FlightLink™ OM3 Cable designed for commercial aircraft, is a perfect example of the application specific solutions that OFS manufactures. All fiber is manufactured at OFS and our broad portfolio of specialty materials for buffers, strength members and jackets allow us to tailor products to meet or exceed the requirements of a given application. Avionics cables whether for commercial or military avionics have stringent requirements across the board, must be fully qualified and offer long lifetime. Read More…

Polarization Maintaining Fiber for Gyroscopes

Fiber Optic Gyroscopes
Fiber Optic Gyroscopes

Polarization Maintaining (PM) optical fiber is a key component of Fiber Optic Gyroscopes, devices that measure rotation in missiles, aircraft, ships and satellites. They are a type of interferometric sensor in which the phase difference between two light paths is measured. Read More…

Why FlightLinx®?

Optical Fiber in Defense and Commercial Applications
Optical Fiber in Defense
and Commercial Applications

Did you know that fiber optic cable plays a key role in bringing In-Flight-Entertainment to your seat on commercial and corporate aircraft? Today most wide body jets used on overseas flights and some narrow-body and regional jets offer both audio and video. This may be in the form of ceiling-mounted screens or on-demand seat back systems offering movies, games and moving maps that show progress to your destination. Read More…