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Quantum Sensing Solutions for Fiber Optic Sensing

Fiber optic sensing has evolved from a research topic to a real-life industrial application, with a range of functions.

Fiber optic distributed sensors can be used for monitoring temperature distributions along power cables to optimise current-carrying capacity, in subsea oil pipelines for flow assurance, and along gas pipelines to detect high-pressure leaks. Their use is also becoming common in structural monitoring applications for civil structures such as bridges and dams, as well as pipelines in unstable geotechnical regions.

Most distributed sensor systems are based on OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometry); a measurement technique used routinely to measure optical fiber loss and uniformity in the telecoms/datacoms sector. By launching brief pulses of light into the fiber under test and examining the returned (scattered) signal as a function of time, the operator can monitor temperature, strain or even acoustic signals along the fiber.

Fiber Optic Sensing

Fibre optic distributed sensors have revolutionised the ability of operators to monitor the integrity of oil and gas infrastructures. By measuring temperature, strain and acoustics, it is possible to dictate leaks, abnormal strain levels and even the presence of intruders. Deploying the technology across high voltage power cables can also improve capacity.

ID Quantique’s single photon detectors are used to provide greatly improved spatial resolution by enhancing the ability to detect and locate small events. A significantly extended measurement range when compared to conventional APD receivers also leads to reduce costs.

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Fiber Optic Test and Measurements

OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometry) is a measurement technique commonly used in the telecommunications industry. Operators can measure an optical link for signal losses caused by fiber attenuation, bends, splices, poor connectors or breaks.

While typical commercial OTDRs are capable of detecting faults, they are generally optimised for long-range monitoring, meaning that smaller defects may not be detected.

The high sensitivity of ID Quantique’s single-photon detectors means they are ideally placed to improve the dynamic range of OTDRs (up to 70dB dynamic range); greatly increasing their range, capability and resolution.

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