A Fiber Optic Gyroscope (FOG) is a highly accurate and sensitive device used for measuring rotation or angular velocity. It relies on the principles of the Sagnac effect, which is a phenomenon occurring in a rotating frame of reference where light traveling in opposite directions along a closed loop of optical fiber experiences a phase shift due to the rotation. This phase shift is then used to determine the angular velocity of the rotation.
Here's a step-by-step explanation of the working principle of a fiber optic gyroscope:
Optical Interferometry: The heart of a FOG is the interferometer, which splits and recombines light waves. In a FOG, a laser source emits a beam of light that is split into two beams by a beam splitter.
Light Paths: The two beams of light travel in opposite directions through a coiled loop of optical fiber. One beam travels clockwise, and the other travels counterclockwise along the loop. These two beams of light are known as the "clockwise" and "counterclockwise" beams.
Sagnac Effect: As the entire system, including the loop of optical fiber, rotates about an axis (due to the rotation being measured), the optical path length experienced by each beam changes. According to the Sagnac effect, the difference in path length causes a phase shift between the clockwise and counterclockwise beams.
Interference: After completing their paths through the fiber loop, the beams are recombined at the beam splitter. Because of the phase shift caused by the rotation, the two beams have a phase difference when they recombine.
Interference Pattern: The recombined beams create an interference pattern when they overlap. This pattern shifts depending on the phase difference between the two beams. This shift is directly proportional to the angular velocity of the rotation being measured.
Detection and Signal Processing: The interference pattern is detected by photodetectors, which convert the light intensity variations into electrical signals. These signals are then processed using electronics to extract the phase difference between the two beams.
Angular Velocity Calculation: By knowing the properties of the fiber loop (such as its length and the speed of light within it), the phase difference can be converted into the angular velocity of the rotation. The relationship between the phase shift and the angular velocity is typically established through calibration.
The key advantage of a FOG is its ability to measure rotation without any moving parts, making it more durable and reliable than traditional mechanical gyroscopes. It's also highly accurate and can detect even very subtle angular changes. FOGs are used in various applications, including navigation systems for airplanes, ships, and spacecraft, as well as in geophysical and industrial applications where precise rotation measurements are essential.