Integrated Sol-Gel Fiber-Optic Sensors (GSC-13913)

Sol-gel has been used for many years in a wide variety of fiber optic applications. Existing systems coat optical fibers with sol-gel. One drawback of this method is that detection occurs outside the core of the fiber rather than inside it. Researchers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have developed a method to ensure that the sol-gel¿s emitted chemiluminescence or fluorescence is transmitted directly to the detector via a fusion-spliced communications fiber.

With Goddard¿s development, detection occurs within the suitably doped core of a fiber. Another advantage of this technology is its versatility. Many sol-gel-filled fiber optic units can be bundled into custom applications in which the fiber can participate as sensor and reaction substrate. Sol-gel fiber optic units can be used single-ended (i.e., spliced to one end of a communications fiber) or in-line (i.e., spliced between two sections of a communications fiber), as required by the application. Researchers are currently working on sensors for monitoring an alkaline phosphatase reaction using chemiluminescence.

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