MINIATURE LOW-COHERENCE FIBER OPTIC ACOUSTIC SENSOR WITH THIN-FILM UV POLYMER DIAPHRAGM
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A miniature low-coherence fiber optic acoustic sensor with a thin-film UV polymer diaphragm is developed and studied in this thesis to address the fundamental challenge of miniaturizing acoustic sensors. When miniaturizing an acoustic sensor, there is a critical size limitation at which the transduction mechanism deformation becomes too small for detection. However, a solution to this problem is to utilize a high resolution, low coherence fiber optic interferometric detection system coupled with a soft, thin-film transduction mechanism. A novel fabrication technique was developed to enable the use of elastomers, which inherently exhibit desirably low Young's modulus properties. In addition, the fabrication process enables fabrication of diaphragms at thicknesses on the order of nanometers. The fabrication process also renders highly tunable sensor performance and superior sensing quality at a low cost. The sensor developed exhibits a flat frequency response between 50 Hz and 4 kHz with a useable bandwidth up to 20 kHz, a dynamic range of 117.55 dB SPL, a signal to noise ratio (SNR) of 58 dB, and a sensitivity up to 1200 mV/Pa. In this thesis, it is further demonstrated that by using an array these sensors fabricated from the same batch facilitates accurate directional sound localization by utilizing the interaural phase difference (IPD) exhibited by sensor pairs. Future work is suggested to optimize the sensor performance for a specific application, to carry out studies of more complex array configurations, and to develop algorithms that can help increase the sound localization accuracy.