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Interference between the modes of an optical fiber results in specific intensity patterns which can be modulated as a function of disturbances in the optical fiber system. These modulation effects are a direct result of the difference in propagation constants of the constituent modes. In this presentation it is shown how the modulated intensity patterns created by the interference of specific mode groups in few-mode optical fibers (V < 5.0) can be used to detect strain. A detailed discussion of the modal phenomena responsible for the observed strain induced pattern modulation is given and it is shown that strain detection sensitivities on the order of 10-9 can be expected. Data taken during the evaluation of an actual experimental strain detection system based on the developed theory is also presented.

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Blacksburg, VA