Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

OPTO6011 Optical Fibre Sensors

Module Overview

Optical fibre sensor technology is playing an increasing role in modern-day life with a range of applications emerging in areas spanning civil engineering, defence and the life sciences. This module focuses on a key area of ORC expertise that has developed in parallel with the other application specific areas of optical communications and fibre laser technologies. This module is compulsory for students on the MSc Optical Fibre Technologies. The module builds on the base-concepts of optical fibre technologies (OPTO6008 and OPTO6009) taught in Semester 1, and will teach the key concepts of distributed and point sensing systems. A substantial part of the module will focus on existing and emerging applications, and on the markets of optical fibre sensor technology. The skills and knowledge acquired during this module will be essential for students wishing to take a final project focusing specifically on optical fibre sensor technologies in Semester 3.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Appreciate the physics behind, and key properties of, optical fibre sensors
  • Appreciate various types of optical fibre sensors and their individual properties
  • Have basic knowledge about components used in sensing systems
  • Appreciate methods of characterisation of optical fibre sensors and optical fibre sensor based systems
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand how specific fibre parameters are applicable to optical sensing
  • Be able to assess the suitability of different types of optical fibre sensors for particular applications
  • Predict the operational properties and understand the limitations of optical fibre sensors based on the knowledge of their design parameters and materials used to form them
  • Understand the core concepts of optical fibre sensing applied to a specific field, and understand which parameters should be measured to fully analyse the nature of the object being tested
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a variety of information sources (lectures, web, journals) to understand & solve problems (in this case for optical fibre sensors)


- Governing standards for sensing systems. - Optical sensing principles (temperature, strain, stress, pressure, refractive index, etc.). - Fibre types and materials for optical fibre sensing (silica based, polymer based, etc.). - Point sensors (Fibre Bragg gratings, long period gratings, and microfibres/nanowires). - Design, fabrication and characterisation of point sensors. - Distributed sensors (Brillouin scattering based, Raman scattering based, Rayleigh scattering based). - Design, fabrication and characterisation of distributed sensors. - Fibre gyroscopes. - Fibre based gas and chemical sensors. - Optical fibre sensors for extreme and harsh environments (high temperature and strain, shock, high radiation). - Principles and application of optical fibre sensors in medicine and life sciences. Principles and application of optical sensors in oil and gas exploration. - Principles and application of optical sensors in civil engineering, e.g. structural monitoring and aircraft navigation. - Emerging markets and economic outlook.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The course consists of 2 lectures per week plus a bi-weekly workshop/surgery. Printed lecture notes and self-study packs will be provided for parts of the course. Learning activities include attending lectures, problems classes, laboratory demonstrations, and exam preparation.

Completion of assessment task15.5
Wider reading or practice62.5
Follow-up work13
Preparation for scheduled sessions13
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Eric Udd and William B. Spillman Jr. Fiber Optic Sensors. 

José Miguel López-Higuera. Handbook of Optical Fibre Sensing Technology. 

An encyclopaedia of laser technology and fibre optics by a Southampton alumnus.



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 60%
Final Assessment  40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: OPTO6008

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings