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IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL 2012

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Application of Fiber Bragg Grating Level Sensor and Fabry-Pérot Pressure Sensor to Simultaneous Measurement of Liquid Level and Specific Gravity

Chih-Wei Lai, Yu-Lung Lo, Jiahn-Piring Yur, and Chin-Ho Chuang

Abstract—This study is proposed for obtaining simultaneous measurements of the level and specific gravity of a liquid using a dual-optical-fiber-sensor system comprising a fiber Bragg grating

(FBG) level sensor and a Fabry-Pérot (FP) pressure sensor. In the FBG level sensor, the liquid level is derived from the FBG wave- length shift induced when the buoyancy is applied on a cantilever beam. Meanwhile, in the FP sensor, the pressure is calculated from the change in cavity length which takes place when the sensor is immersed. The experimental results show that the FBG level and FP pressure sensors have sensitivities of 0.01491 nm/cm and

m/kPa, respectively. Analytical formulae are derived for

0.1569

the level and specific gravity of the liquid in terms of the Bragg wavelength shift, the change in cavity length, and the vertical separation distance between the two sensors. The average mea- surement errors of the liquid level and specific gravity are found to be 0.0323 and 0.0528 m, respectively.

Index Terms— Fiber Bragg grating (FBG), Fabry-Pérot (FP), pressure sensors, liquid level sensor, specific gravity sensor.

sensors, liquid level sensor, specific gravity sensor. I. I NTRODUCTION A VARIETY of optical fiber sensors

I. INTRODUCTION

A VARIETY of optical fiber sensors integrated into the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology

[1]–[3] have been proposed and fabricated in the last decade.

It is because that there are many advantages of optical fiber

sensors, including immunity to electromagnetic interference,

a small size, a light weight, high sensitivity, multiplexing

capabilities, ease of signal light transmission, and robustness toward harsh environments [4]. However, the packaging of most existing sensor heads involves complicated and expensive procedures. Therefore, to extend the application of optical fiber sensors, new packaging systems characterized by a low cost and the use of simple MEMS techniques are required.

Manuscript received April 19, 2011; revised June 07, 2011; accepted June 24, 2011. Date of publication June 30, 2011; date of current version February 08, 2012. This work was supported by the National Science Council of Taiwan, under Contract NSC 98-2623-E-006-012-D. The associate editor coordinating the review of this paper and approving it for publication was Dr. Subhas Mukhopadhyay. C.-W. Lai was with the Institute of Nanotechnology and Microsystems En- gineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan. Y.-L. Lo is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Institute of Nan- otechnology and Microsystems Engineering and the Center for Micro/Nano Sci- ence and Technology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan (e-mail: loyl@mail.ncku.edu.tw). J.-P. Yur is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kun Shan Uni- versity, Tainan 701, Taiwan. C.-H. Chuang is with theDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan. Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available online at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org. Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/JSEN.2011.2161075

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/JSEN.2011.2161075 Fig. 1. The schematic structure of FBG level sensing

Fig. 1.

The schematic structure of FBG level sensing structure.

There are many optical fiber-based sensors for liquid level

measurement. For example, Nath et al. [5] presented a simple intensity-modulated fiber optic sensor, which is based on frus- trated total internal reflection effect caused by refractive index change of a medium surrounding an optical fiber. Khaliq et al. [6] proposed and demonstrated a liquid-level sensor based on the refractive-index sensitivity of long-period fiber-optic gratings. Sheng et al. [7] developed a temperature-independent differential pressure sensor based on two FBGs. The results showed that the sensor was capable of providing simultaneous measurements of both the temperature and the differential pres- sure, and was suitable for applications involving liquid level, liquid density or specific gravity measurement. However, in the sensors proposed above, the liquid level can only be obtained

if the specific gravity of the liquid is known in advance. In

practice, this specific gravity is not always available, and thus the proposed sensors have only limited applicability.

In the present study, a novel dual-optical-fiber-sensor system

comprising a fiber Bragg grating (FBG) level sensor and a Fabry-Pérot (FP) pressure sensor is proposed. The sensitivities

of the two sensors are evaluated experimentally, and analytical

formulae are then proposed for obtaining the unknown level

and specific gravity of a liquid simultaneously. In addition,

a calibration method is proposed in Section 4 using actual

measurement values for enhancing the accuracy of the mea- surement results. Finally, the performance of the proposed dual-optical-fiber-sensor system is evaluated experimentally.

II. FBG-BASED LEVEL SENSOR

The dual-optical-fiber-sensor system proposed in this study incorporates the FBG-based liquid-level sensor proposed by Sohn and Shim [8], but the structure design and finite-element method (FEM) simulation are different. As shown in Fig. 1, the liquid level sensing makes use of one FBG that is pasted onto the centric surface of the uniform-strength cantilever beam and

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828 Fig. 2. Experimental configuration used to characterize FBG-based level sensor. a column buoy is used

Fig. 2.

Experimental configuration used to characterize FBG-based level

sensor.

a column buoy is used to apply force at the end of the cantilever beam. The axial strain induces an expansion of the FBG, and therefore prompts a shift in the FBG wavelength from which the pressure can then be derived as

wavelength from which the pressure can then be derived as (1) where is the free-space center

(1)

from which the pressure can then be derived as (1) where is the free-space center wavelength

where is the free-space center wavelength of the input light that will be back-reflected from the Bragg grating and is Bragg wavelength shift after applied the force . The can- tilever beam is made up of poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA) with strain sensitivity (unit: Strain/Newton) ac- cording to the FEM simulation. is the Strain-optic coeffi-

cording to the FEM simulation. is the Strain-optic coeffi- cient ( , where and are Pockel’s
cording to the FEM simulation. is the Strain-optic coeffi- cient ( , where and are Pockel’s
cording to the FEM simulation. is the Strain-optic coeffi- cient ( , where and are Pockel’s

cient (

, where and are

is the Strain-optic coeffi- cient ( , where and are Pockel’s coefficients of the strain-optic tensor,

Pockel’s coefficients of the strain-optic tensor, is the Poisson’s ratio) and it has a numerical value of [9]. Fig. 1 shows the dimension of the sensing structure, and the structure is right- and-left symmetry along the center line.

A. Experimental Setup and Results for FBG-Based Level

Sensor

Fig. 2 shows the configuration of the FBG liquid-level sensing system, including the broadband source, cantilever beam, column buoy, 2 2 coupler, optical spectrum analyzer, and FBG-based sensor. The cantilever beam is fixed on the con- tainer and the column buoy is fixed at the end of the cantilever beam. The force applied to the end of the cantilever beam varies with the liquid level and is equal to the liquid buoyancy to the column buoy. Thus, force can be expressed as

buoyancy to the column buoy. Thus, force can be expressed as (2) where is the specific
buoyancy to the column buoy. Thus, force can be expressed as (2) where is the specific
buoyancy to the column buoy. Thus, force can be expressed as (2) where is the specific

(2)

to the column buoy. Thus, force can be expressed as (2) where is the specific gravity,

where is the specific gravity, is pure water density, is the gravitational constant, is the liquid level, is the distance between the base surface of the column buoy and the bottom of the container, is the mass of the column buoy, and is the cross-sectional area of the column buoy. The force results in deformation and strain of the can- tilever beam. As strain is applied to the FBG, the Bragg grating pitch will change accordingly, which leads to the Bragg wave- length shift of the spectrum. As well, the change of the liquid level would induce the shift of Bragg wavelength. Therefore, the liquid level can be sensed by monitoring the shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer.

shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4,
shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4,
shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4,
shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4,
shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4,
shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4,
shift of Bragg wavelength from an optical spectrum analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4,

IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL 2012

analyzer. IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL 2012 Fig. 3. Theoretical and experimental results

Fig. 3. Theoretical and experimental results for the Bragg wavelength shift with liquid level.

The performance of the FBG-based level sensor was eval- uated by measuring the shift in the Bragg wavelength as the liquid level was increased incrementally from 0.45 to 0.78 m in steps of 0.03 m. Fig. 3 presents the corresponding results for the Bragg wavelength shift with the liquid level. It is observed that the FBG level sensor exhibits an approximately linear response over the considered level range. From inspection, the theoretical and experimental sensitivities of the level sensor are found to be 0.01867 and 0.01491 nm/cm, respectively. The sensitivity is low that increases the measurement error with limitative resolution of optical spectrum analyzer. The repeatability of the cantilever beam system is acceptable in the liquid lever measurement range (from 0.4 to 0.8 m) according to Fig. 3. The results are the linear response with the elastic deformation of cantilever beam. The difference can be explained that the FEM simulation model has some ideal assumptions, for example, the fixed boundary condi- tion and uniform deformation of sensing structure. It is noticed that the liquid level measurement range can be changed with new sensor design if the measurement range begins from 0 m.

III. FP PRESSURE SENSOR

In addition to the FBG level sensor described in the previous section, the dual-pressure-sensor system proposed in this study also incorporates the FP pressure sensor proposed by the current group in [10]. As shown in Fig. 4, the sensor comprises an op- tical fiber, a glass tube, an air cavity and a reflective diaphragm consisting of a three-layer arrangement of polyimide, metal and SU-8 photoresist. When immersed in liquid, the resulting deflection of the di- aphragm leads to a change in the cavity length from which the liquid pressure can then be inversely derived. Since the Young’s modulus of the metal layer in the diaphragm is much larger than that of either the polyimide layer or the SU-8 layer, the diaphragm can be regarded as a simple, edge-clamped circular plate of metal material. Accordingly, the deflection of the center point of the diaphragm resulting from a change in the ap- plied pressure can be written as [11], [12]

in the ap- plied pressure can be written as [11], [12] (3) where and are the

(3)

in the ap- plied pressure can be written as [11], [12] (3) where and are the

where and are the Poisson’s ratio and Young’s modulus of the metal material, respectively, is the radius of the di-

where and are the Poisson’s ratio and Young’s modulus of the metal material, respectively, is the
where and are the Poisson’s ratio and Young’s modulus of the metal material, respectively, is the

LAI et al. : APPLICATION OF FBG LEVEL SENSOR AND FP PRESSURE SENSOR

: APPLICATION OF FBG LEVEL SENSOR AND FP PRESSURE SENSOR Fig. 4. FP-based pressure sensor [9].

Fig. 4.

FP-based pressure sensor [9].

AND FP PRESSURE SENSOR Fig. 4. FP-based pressure sensor [9]. Fig. 5. pressure. Experimental and theoretical

Fig. 5.

pressure.

Experimental and theoretical results for variation of cavity length with

aphragm, and

for a given pressure, the cavity length

with aphragm, and for a given pressure, the cavity length is the thickness of the metal

is the thickness of the metal layer. Note that

cavity length is the thickness of the metal layer. Note that is obtained as (4) are

is obtained as

the thickness of the metal layer. Note that is obtained as (4) are the wavelengths corresponding

(4)

are

the wavelengths corresponding to any two adjacent peaks in the

reflective spectrum [13], [14].

where is the refractive index of the cavity, and and

[14]. where is the refractive index of the cavity, and and A. Experimental Setup and Results
[14]. where is the refractive index of the cavity, and and A. Experimental Setup and Results
[14]. where is the refractive index of the cavity, and and A. Experimental Setup and Results

A. Experimental Setup and Results for FP-Based Sensor

The performance of the FP-based sensor was evaluated exper- imentally using the same setup as that used to characterize the FBG level sensor. Note that the sensor diaphragm had a thick- ness of 0.5 m. In performing the tests, the pressure was in- creased incrementally from 0.98 to 6.86 kPa in steps of 0.49 kPa. At each pressure step, the cavity length was derived from an in- spection of the interference patterns in the spectral domain. The experimental and theoretical results for the variation of the cavity length with the pressure are shown in Fig. 5. It can be seen that the FP pressure sensor has an approximately linear response over the considered pressure range. From inspection, the theoretical and experimental sensitivities of the sensor are found to be 0.1998 m/kPa and 0.1569 m/kPa, respectively. The difference can be explained that a nonparallel alignment of

difference can be explained that a nonparallel alignment of 829 Fig. 6. Experiment setup used to
difference can be explained that a nonparallel alignment of 829 Fig. 6. Experiment setup used to
difference can be explained that a nonparallel alignment of 829 Fig. 6. Experiment setup used to

829

can be explained that a nonparallel alignment of 829 Fig. 6. Experiment setup used to characterize

Fig. 6.

Experiment setup used to characterize dual-sensor system.

the optical fiber and glass tube and a nonuniform thickness of the diaphragm.

IV. SIMULTANEOUS MEASUREMENT OF LIQUID LEVEL AND

SPECIFIC GRAVITY UTILIZING FBG AND FP PRESSURE SENSORS

A. Basic Theory of Dual-Sensor System

Fig. 6 shows the basic configuration of the proposed dual-op- tical-fiber-sensor system incorporating the FBG and FP sensors described in Sections II and III, respectively. The system com- prises a broadband light source, an optical spectrum analyzer, a fiber coupler, and the two sensors. As shown, the FBG and FP sensors are separated by a known vertical distance of . From (1) to (3), the Bragg wavelength shift and change in cavity length can be rewritten as

shift and change in cavity length can be rewritten as (5) (6) where is the liquid
shift and change in cavity length can be rewritten as (5) (6) where is the liquid

(5)

(6)

and change in cavity length can be rewritten as (5) (6) where is the liquid container

where is the liquid container area; therefore, the term in (6) is the pressure variation due to the column buoy. It should be subtracted for liquid-level com- pensation. The specific gravity and liquid level can then be obtained by solving (5) and (6) simultaneously. As discussed in Sections II and III, the experimental results obtained using the FBG and FP pressure sensors deviate from the theoretical results. The measurement error from the FBG and FP sensors can be found in Figs. 3 and 5. Thus, to improve the accuracy of the specific gravity and liquid level measurements obtained from (5) and (6), some forms of calibration mechanism are required. A series of experiments was therefore performed in which the level and pressure measurements obtained using the FBG and FP sensors were calibrated in accordance with the liquid level and specific gravity values obtained using a mea- suring scale and a specific gravity meter, respectively. The cali- brated sensor sensitivities were then substituted into (5) and (6), yielding the following expressions for the FBG wavelength shift and change in cavity length, respectively

and (6), yielding the following expressions for the FBG wavelength shift and change in cavity length,

(7)

(8)

830

830 Fig. 7. Spectrum obtained from dual-sensor system. The highest peak is the FBG reflective wavelength,

Fig. 7. Spectrum obtained from dual-sensor system. The highest peak is the FBG reflective wavelength, and the other pattern is the FP reflective spectrum.

and the other pattern is the FP reflective spectrum. Fig. 8. Spectrum shift obtained from dual-sensor

Fig. 8. Spectrum shift obtained from dual-sensor system after applying dif- ferent liquid-level 1 and liquid-level 2.

From (7) and (8), the specific gravity and liquid level can then be obtained as

specific gravity and liquid level can then be obtained as (9) (10) B. Experimental Results for
specific gravity and liquid level can then be obtained as (9) (10) B. Experimental Results for

(9)

(10)

B. Experimental Results for Dual-Optical-Fiber-Sensor

System

Figs. 7 and 8 show the spectrum obtained from the dual- sensor system illustrated in Fig. 6. The highest peak in Figs. 7 and 8 is the FBG reflective wavelength; and the other pat- tern is the FP reflective spectrum. It is noticed that the FBG sensor peak is much stronger than the FP sensor peak with logarithmic scale axis. Therefore, it has a little influence on FBG sensor peak estimation. Meanwhile, Figs. 9 and 10 illustrate the experimental and actual results (using measuring scale and a specific gravity meter) for the specific gravity and the liquid level, respectively. Note that the specific gravity of the liquid (water) was increased incrementally via the addi- tion of carefully controlled amounts of salt. From inspection,

of carefully controlled amounts of salt. From inspection, IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL

IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL 2012

inspection, IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL 2012 Fig. 9. Experimental and actual results

Fig. 9.

Experimental and actual results for specific gravity.

9. Experimental and actual results for specific gravity. Fig. 10. Experimental and actual results for liquid

Fig. 10.

Experimental and actual results for liquid level.

the average measurement error is found to be 0.0528 for the specific gravity and 0.0323 m for the liquid level. It can be inferred that the measurement errors exhibited in Figs. 9 and 10 are due to the low sensitivity in the FP pressure sensor. In other words, the sensitivity and repeatability of the FP sensor should be enhanced by fabricating the thinner diaphragm and improving the alignment of the optical fiber and glass tube, re- spectively, ensuring the uniformity of the diaphragm thickness and optimizing the diaphragm design parameters. The target accuracies are below 0.002 for specific gravity and 1 mm for liquid level for most commercial applications. Meanwhile, for the FBG liquid-level sensor, the strain of FBG is not equal to that of sensing structure and the density of buoy column is not uniform. It is noticed that the temperature will affect the specific gravity and atmospheric pressure will produce about kPa variation for PF sensor. For the temperature compensation, a dummy sensor in the dual-sensor system can be designed as in [15].

sensor in the dual-sensor system can be designed as in [15]. V. C ONCLUSION A simultaneous

V. CONCLUSION

A simultaneous measurement on liquid level and specific gravity based on the FP pressure sensor and FBG liquid-level sensor is presented in this study. The experimental results have shown that the FBG level and FP pressure sensors exhibit a linear response given a change in the liquid level and pressure, and have sensitivities of 0.01491 nm/cm and 0.1569 m/kPa,

linear response given a change in the liquid level and pressure, and have sensitivities of 0.01491

LAI et al. : APPLICATION OF FBG LEVEL SENSOR AND FP PRESSURE SENSOR

respectively. In addition, it has been shown that the average measurement errors of the dual-sensor system for the liquid level and specific gravity are 0.0323 and 0.0528 m, respectively. Accordingly, the sensitivity and repeatability of the FBG and FP sensors will be improved in the future study in order to en- hance the capabilities of the proposed dual-optical-fiber-sensor system.

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Chih-Wei Lai received the B.S. degree from the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung, Taiwan, in 2006, and the M.S. degree from the Institute of Nanotechnology and Mi- crosystems Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, in

2008.

Yu-Lung Lo received the B.S. degree from the National Cheng Kung Univer- sity, Tainan, Taiwan, in 1985, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the Smart Materials and Structures Research Center, Univer- sity of Maryland, College Park, in 1992 and 1995, respectively. After graduation, he joined the Opto-Electronics and Systems Laboratories of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), working on fiber-optic smart structures and fiber communications. He has been a member of the De- partment of Mechanical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, since 1996, and is now a Full Professor. He is also an Affiliate Professor with the In- stitute of Nanotechnology and Microsystem Engineering, National Cheng Kung University. His research interests lie in the areas of fiber-optic sensors, passive components in optical fiber communications, experimental mechanics, optical techniques in precision measurements on LCD panels, and MOEMS. He has authored over 90 journal publications in the IEEE TRANSACTIONS, OSA, The International Society for Optical Engineers (SPIE), the Society of Experimental Mechanics (SEM), and so forth, and has filed several patents. Dr. Lo is a member of the Steering Committee of the Society of the Asian Committee for Experimental Mechanics (ACEM). He was awarded the Dr. Wu, Ta-You Memorial Award for Young Researchers by the National Science Council of Taiwan in 2002, and received the First-Class Research Award from the National Science Council for the year 2005–2006. Furthermore, he is listed in Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and was Chair in the technical division of optical methods and Secretary in the technical division of inverse problem methodologies in the Society of Experimental Mechanics (SEM) in the U.S., 2008.

Jiahn-Piring Yur received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the Depart- ment of Mechanical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Tainan, Taiwan, in 1985, 1990, and 2002, respectively. After graduation of Bachelor, he had been a Teaching Assistant (TA) at NCKU from 1987 to 1988. In 1990, he became a member of Faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering , Kun Shan University (KSU), Tainan Hsien, Taiwan, At KSU, he wrote the projects and established the MEMS Center, the Micro-Sensor Technical R&D Center, and the Nano-Technology R&D Center, in 1999, 2001, and 2002, respectively. He has authored over 60 technical conference and journal publications. His research interests are in the areas of precision manufacturing, CAD/CAM/CAE, expert system, artificial intelligent, automation integrated system, material science, nano/micro-struc- tures detecting techniques in scanning electron microscope (SEM), fiber-optic sensors, optical techniques in backlight unit (BLU) of liquid crystal display (LCD), MEMS, nano/micro tribology, AFM/STM/SPM operating techniques, and nanotechnology, etc. Prof. Yur received the Best Honors of Asian Who’s Who in 2005 and the Asian Admirable Achievers in 2006.

Chin-Ho Chuang received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the De- partment of Mechanical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, in 1998, 2000, and 2008, respectively. After graduation, he has been a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University.