The non-uniform geometry of woven fabric composite materials can induce localised macro bending in embedded optical fibre Bragg grating (FBG) sensors when they are compacted between layers during the lay-up process. This leads to a non-uniform strain profile along the optical fibres which can limit the efficacy of conventional peak tracking algorithms for demodulating strain.
This paper investigates the effect of gauge length on sensor response for FBGs of different length embedded in a woven glass fibre reinforced composite coupon. The experimentally measured FBG reflection spectra were compared to model predictions for the unloaded state assuming an FBG bend radius of similar dimensions to the weft of the fabric. Through thickness fibre optic strains under four point loading conditions were compared to side-imaged thermoelastic response measurements. The results show that the ratio of the gauge length to the curvature radius of the macro bending is critical with the optimal gauge length being a compromise between FBG reflectivity and sensor response.