Fiber Fabry-Perot interferometer (FFPI) sensor using vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL)
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This research represents the first effort to apply vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) to the monitoring of interferometric fiber optic sensors. Modulation of the drive current causes thermal tuning of the laser light frequency. Reflection of this frequency-modulated light from a fiber Fabry-Perot interferometer (FFPI) sensor produces fringe patterns which can be used to measure the optical path difference of the sensor. Spectral characteristics were measured for 850nm VCSELs to determine the combination of dc bias current, modulation current amplitude and modulation frequency for which single mode VCSEL operation and regular fringe patterns are achieved. The response characteristics of FFPI sensors were determined experimentally for square, triangular, saw-tooth waveforms at frequencies from 10kHz to 100kHz. The dependence of VCSEL frequency on the dc bias current was determined from spectral measurements to be ~165GHz/mA. An independent measurement of this quantity based on counting fringes from the FFPI sensor as the laser modulated was in good agreement with this value. The effect of optical feedback into the laser was also studied. By observing the fringe shift as the FFPI sensor was heated, a fractional change in optical length with temperature of 6.95 X 10-6/????C was determined in good agreement with previous measurements on a 1300nm single mode fiber. The performance of 850nm VCSEL/FFPI systems was compared with their counterparts using 1300nm distributed feedback (DFB) lasers. The results of these experiments show that the 850nm VCSEL/FFPI combination gives regular fringe patterns at much lower bias current and modulating current amplitudes than their 1300nm DFB/FFPI counterparts.