In vivo measurement of blood pressure is critical in many settings, including patient care, medical research, and control of cardiovascular assist and replacement devices. This article describes a pressure sensor based on fiber optic, white light interferometry. An optical interference filter formed between the end face of an optical fiber and the sensing diaphragm selectively reflects a wavelength component. A low cost, thin film optical wedge interferometer placed at the output end detects the wavelength of the reflected signal, which represents a unique cavity length of the interference filter directly related to the diaphragm deflection and, therefore, pressure. Several key features of this sensing scheme include low drift, high accuracy, and insensitivity to light loss factors along the length of the optical fiber. This fiber optic pressure sensor promises significant advances as a medical monitoring tool, a research instrument, and a component of cardiovascular assist and replacement devices. A prototype pressure gauge has been built, and the feasibility of the optical approach verified. Experimental results of the prototype gauge for resolution, repeatability, and drift and a preliminary design for a high resolution, low drift, miniature fiber optic pressure probe are presented herein.
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