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Measuring Humidity with Light? Optical Fiber Could Test Bridge Safety
NIST researchers are testing a new kind of humidity sensor - an optical fiber that curls in dry air and straightens in moist. This video shows the experimental setup, with clips of the fiber curling and straightening (sped up hundreds of times). Sensors like these could be built into bridges and buildings for real-time monitoring of humidity, which affects the aging of these structures. Right now, the researchers are trying to maximize the bending effect by changing the thickness of the coating and how uniformly it is applied. Coating the fiber with a different material could make it sensitive to something else. The team plans to explore other kinds of coatings, in the hopes of finding ones that will swell in response to carbon monoxide and other potentially harmful gases.
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