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IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO.

4, APRIL 2012 827


Application of Fiber Bragg Grating Level Sensor
and Fabry-Prot Pressure Sensor to Simultaneous
Measurement of Liquid Level and Specic Gravity
Chih-Wei Lai, Yu-Lung Lo, Jiahn-Piring Yur, and Chin-Ho Chuang
AbstractThis study is proposed for obtaining simultaneous
measurements of the level and specic gravity of a liquid using a
dual-optical-ber-sensor system comprising a ber Bragg grating
(FBG) level sensor and a Fabry-Prot (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
0.1569 m/kPa, respectively. Analytical formulae are derived for
the level and specic 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 specic gravity are found
to be 0.0323 and 0.0528 m, respectively.
Index TermsFiber Bragg grating (FBG), Fabry-Prot (FP),
pressure sensors, liquid level sensor, specic gravity sensor.
I. INTRODUCTION
A
VARIETY of optical ber 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 ber
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 ber
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 gures in this paper are available online
at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.
Digital Object Identier 10.1109/JSEN.2011.2161075
Fig. 1. The schematic structure of FBG level sensing structure.
There are many optical ber-based sensors for liquid level
measurement. For example, Nath et al. [5] presented a simple
intensity-modulated ber optic sensor, which is based on frus-
trated total internal reection effect caused by refractive index
change of a medium surrounding an optical ber. Khaliq et al.
[6] proposed and demonstrated a liquid-level sensor based
on the refractive-index sensitivity of long-period ber-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 specic gravity measurement. However, in the
sensors proposed above, the liquid level can only be obtained
if the specic gravity of the liquid is known in advance. In
practice, this specic gravity is not always available, and thus
the proposed sensors have only limited applicability.
In the present study, a novel dual-optical-ber-sensor system
comprising a ber Bragg grating (FBG) level sensor and a
Fabry-Prot (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 specic 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-ber-sensor system is evaluated experimentally.
II. FBG-BASED LEVEL SENSOR
The dual-optical-ber-sensor system proposed in this study
incorporates the FBG-based liquid-level sensor proposed by
Sohn and Shim [8], but the structure design and nite-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
1530-437X/$26.00 2011 IEEE
828 IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL 2012
Fig. 2. Experimental conguration 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
(1)
where is the free-space center wavelength of the input light
that will be back-reected 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 coef-
cient ( , where and are
Pockels coefcients of the strain-optic tensor, is the Poissons
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 conguration 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 xed on the con-
tainer and the column buoy is xed 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
(2)
where is the specic 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.
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. Frominspection, 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
beamsystemis acceptable in the liquid lever measurement range
(from0.4 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 xed 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 ber, a glass tube, an air cavity and a reective diaphragm
consisting of a three-layer arrangement of polyimide, metal and
SU-8 photoresist.
When immersed in liquid, the resulting deection of the di-
aphragm leads to a change in the cavity length from which the
liquid pressure can then be inversely derived. Since the Youngs
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 deection of the center
point of the diaphragm resulting from a change in the ap-
plied pressure can be written as [11], [12]
(3)
where and are the Poissons ratio and Youngs modulus
of the metal material, respectively, is the radius of the di-
LAI et al.: APPLICATION OF FBG LEVEL SENSOR AND FP PRESSURE SENSOR 829
Fig. 4. FP-based pressure sensor [9].
Fig. 5. Experimental and theoretical results for variation of cavity length with
pressure.
aphragm, and is the thickness of the metal layer. Note that
for a given pressure, the cavity length is obtained as
(4)
where is the refractive index of the cavity, and and are
the wavelengths corresponding to any two adjacent peaks in the
reective spectrum [13], [14].
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 from0.98 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
Fig. 6. Experiment setup used to characterize dual-sensor system.
the optical ber 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 conguration of the proposed dual-op-
tical-ber-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
ber 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
(5)
(6)
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 specic 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 fromthe FBGand
FP sensors can be found in Figs. 3 and 5. Thus, to improve the
accuracy of the specic 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 specic gravity values obtained using a mea-
suring scale and a specic gravity meter, respectively. The cali-
brated sensor sensitivities were then substituted into (5) and (6),
yielding the following expressions for the FBGwavelength shift
and change in cavity length, respectively
(7)
(8)
830 IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL, VOL. 12, NO. 4, APRIL 2012
Fig. 7. Spectrum obtained from dual-sensor system. The highest peak is the
FBG reective wavelength, and the other pattern is the FP reective spectrum.
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 specic gravity and liquid level can then
be obtained as
(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 reective wavelength; and the other pat-
tern is the FP reective 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 inuence
on FBG sensor peak estimation. Meanwhile, Figs. 9 and 10
illustrate the experimental and actual results (using measuring
scale and a specic gravity meter) for the specic gravity and
the liquid level, respectively. Note that the specic gravity of
the liquid (water) was increased incrementally via the addi-
tion of carefully controlled amounts of salt. From inspection,
Fig. 9. Experimental and actual results for specic gravity.
Fig. 10. Experimental and actual results for liquid level.
the average measurement error is found to be 0.0528 for the
specic 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 ber 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 specic 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
specic 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].
V. CONCLUSION
A simultaneous measurement on liquid level and specic
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,
LAI et al.: APPLICATION OF FBG LEVEL SENSOR AND FP PRESSURE SENSOR 831
respectively. In addition, it has been shown that the average
measurement errors of the dual-sensor system for the liquid
level and specic 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-ber-sensor
system.
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Chih-Wei Lai received the B.S. degree fromthe 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 ber-optic
smart structures and ber 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 Afliate Professor with the In-
stitute of Nanotechnology and MicrosystemEngineering, National Cheng Kung
University. His research interests lie in the areas of ber-optic sensors, passive
components in optical ber 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 led 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 20052006. Furthermore, he is
listed in Whos Who in the World and Whos 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, articial
intelligent, automation integrated system, material science, nano/micro-struc-
tures detecting techniques in scanning electron microscope (SEM), ber-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 Whos 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.