Jun 10 2011

Optical Sensing in the America’s Cup

Published by under General

Artemis Technical Supplier Logo
 Artemis Racing

Micron Optics is now the official technical supplier of optical sensing interrogators and sensors to the Artemis Racing team representing the Royal Swedish Yacht Club. The announced racing format includes wing-sailed multi-hulled AC45 and AC72 catamarans which will be the fastest and some of the most challenging class of catamarans raced in the America’s Cup to date.

Small, light-weight, optical sensors embedded directly inside carbon composites offer significant advantages to the team because they provide the capability to accurately monitor strain and load changes in real time. This data is critical to achieve maximum performance capabilities in the limited testing period as well as during the race. Catastrophic catamaran damage that might occur during gusty conditions such as broken masts or capsizes will take a team out of the competition, so the ability to measure the condition of the boat at all times is critical.

View this promotional video to see the Artemis Racing Team in action as they prepare for the America’s Cup.

The 34th America’s Cup includes the Louis Vuitton Cup July 13 - September 1, 2013 and the America’s Cup Match Finals September 7 - September 22, 2013.

-Andrew Peterson
Micron Optics Sales

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May 20 2011

Optical Sensing in NASA’s Constellation Project

NASAs Orion

Orion is the Crew Exploration Vehicle that was created for NASA’s Constellation project. At first glance, Constellation is reminiscent of the Apollo system, with the crew riding atop a large launch vehicle. But Orion is meant for longer missions to the moon and rendezvous with asteroids. So while Apollo and Constellation might look similar, the engineering tasks represent a new set of challenges. See more here www.nasa.gov/

Fiber optic strain sensors are being used to verify the design and performance of a critical part of the Orion Capsule - the heat shield. Recent drop tests at the US Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds included 41 drops and various angles and velocities. A Micron Optics sm130-700 Optical Sensing Interrogator was the primary measurement tool gathering data from dozens of FBG strain gages welded to the interior surface of the heat shield.

Chris Lynn, NASA’s lead engineer for these tests, had this to say to the Micron Optics team following the tests “The Crew Module water landing drop tests were very successful, so much so that we completed a total of 41 drops when we only planned for 23 in the original test matrix. The fiber optic strain sensors provided by Micron Optics held up extremely well during testing - we didn’t lose a single sensor during the duration of testing. We greatly appreciate MOI’s support during all phases of work, without the great work the testing would not have been a success. Thanks again for the great work!”

Tom Graver
Vice President -Optical Sensing Group

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May 12 2011

Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory

Published by under General,OS Technology,Sensors

The Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (http://www.dusel.org) at Homestake gold mine in South Dakota is posing technical challenges far ahead of the actual experiments to be performed there. In particular, the mine itself must be prepared to ensure a safe as well as scientifically interesting work environment. Research in many scientific disciplines is being undertaken at this facility including Astrophysics, Geoscience, Microbiology and investigations of future technologies such as CO2 Sequestration.

Why perform experiments 8,000 feet underground? Because the mass of rock shields astrophysics experiments from cosmic interference. If you want to learn more about pioneering work in neutrino detection, you’ll find fascinating details here: www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/raydavis/research.htm.

Professor Herb Wang of the University of Wisconsin leads a team of geoscientists and engineers (GEOX) who are relying on fiber optic sensing systems to measure movement of the rock structures. The GEOX research is sponsored by the Geomechanics Program of the National Science Foundation. GEOX’s charter is clear: “The objective of GEOXTM is to understand the mechanical response of rock masses to loading for spatial scales from centimeters to kilometers and for time scales from milliseconds to decades by installing the world’s largest and deepest underground network of fiber optic strain and temperature sensors and tiltmeters.” One advantage of the fiber optic sensing technology is that not only is science being performed but safety and structural health monitoring of these very large structures can be realized also. The focus of the safety assurance work is to understand rock-mass deformation resulting from dewatering of the old mine passages followed by excavation of giant caverns that will house the experiments.


For example, meter long FBG based strain gages are mounted in threes to sense rock shifts in X, Y and Z axes in critical locations. Just last week, the GEOX team was working with hydraulic jacks in the mine to load the rock mass and study its response.

JoAnn Gage, a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin and key member of the GEOX team, has invented special “strain strips” that combine six strain and six temperature sensors and are grouted in boreholes in the rock.


The motivation for using fiber optic measurement techniques, rather than conventional electrical gages, is that fiber optic methods (including fiber Bragg gratings, Raman, and Brillioun) can address the wide range of measurement scales, i.e., centimeters to kilometers and milliseconds to decades.

Herb Wang sums it up nicely. “Fiber-optic sensors have the versatility and stability to extend our understanding of how rock masses deform. We were successful in this work because we received extensive technical support from Alan Turner and the entire Micron Optics organization.”

Alan Turner,
Micron Optics Sales

ETA: If you want to read more on SUSEL, you can purchase “Fiber Optic Strain And Temperature Monitoring In Crystalline Rock At the Sanford Underground Science And Engineering Laboratory (SUSEL), Lead, South Dakota” by Dr. Gage, et al. which was presented at the 44th U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium and 5th U.S.-Canada Rock Mechanics Symposium in 2010.

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May 09 2011

Monitoring the Vicksburg Bridge

Published by under General

Vicksburg bridge

Recently, a grain-filled barge on the Mississippi river broke apart upstream of the Vicksburg Bridge. This barge crashed into and was pinned against one of the bridge’s support pillars. Luckily, an optical monitoring system had been previously installed by Chandler Monitoring Systems using a variety of Micron Optics optical sensors, interrogators, and other instrumentation.

As soon as the crash occurred, optical sensors linked to the monitoring system triggered alarms alerting members of the LA DODT, MS DOT, and CMS who were all able to see the optical measurements and identify the exact collision location. Engineers were sent to the collision site within a few minutes to assess damages and decide on precautionary measures. The bridge immediately closed to traffic, but was opened a few hours later after structural engineers’ inspection of collision damages and analysis of data taken from the optical monitoring system.

The barge remained pinned against the pillar for weeks as it proved to be a challenge to remove; however, the Vicksburg Bridge remained accessible to the daily traffic of over 20,000 cars throughout the barge removal process. If there were any changes in the structural integrity of the Vicksburg Bridge during this time, the optical monitoring system would be the first line of detection.

More information regarding the barge collision can be found in Army COE’s Information Bulletin.
Continue to the Vicksburg Bridge Case Study to learn more about optical sensing system used in the structural heal monitoring of the Vicksburg Bridge.

-Andrew Peterson
Micron Optics Sales

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