Distributed fiber optic intrusion sensor system for monitoring long perimeters



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A distributed sensor using an optical fiber for detecting and locating intruders over long perimeters (>10 km) is described. Phase changes resulting from either the pressure of the intruder on the ground immediately above the buried fiber or from seismic disturbances in the vicinity are sensed by a phase-sensitive optical time-domain reflectometer (??OTDR). Light pulses from a cw laser operating in a single longitudinal mode and with low (MHz/min range) frequency drift are injected into one end of the single mode fiber, and the backscattered light is monitored with a photodetector. In laboratory tests with 12 km of fiber on reels, the effects of localized phase perturbations induced by a piezoelectric fiber stretcher on ??OTDR traces were characterized. In field tests in which the sensing element is a single mode fiber in a 3-mm diameter cable buried in an 8 to 18 inch deep, 4 inch wide trench in clay soil, detection of intruders on foot up to 15 ft from the cable line was achieved. In desert terrain field tests in which the sensing fiber is in a 4.5-mm diameter cable buried in a 1 ft deep, 2.5 ft wide trench filled with loose sand, high sensitivity and consistent detection of intruders on foot and of vehicles traveling down a road near the cable line was realized over a cable length of 8.5 km and a total fiber path of 19 km in real time. In a final series of field tests in clay soil, phase changes produced by the steps of a person walking up to 15 ft away from the buried cable were observed, and vehicles traveling at 10 mph were consistently detected up to 300 ft away. Based on these results, this technology may be regarded as a candidate for providing low-cost perimeter security for nuclear power plants, electrical power distribution centers, storage facilities for fuel and volatile chemicals, communication hubs, airports, government offices, military bases, embassies, and national borders.