Glass fiber as a landslide sensor

Miniature sensor monitors dams and buildings

The Slumgullion landslide moves around six feet a year
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Berlin researchers have developed a digital sensor based on a single glass fiber that can precisely record the finest earth movements on the meter. Dam fractures, landslides, avalanches and even building collapses can be predicted better and less expensive than before.

The new sensor, a glass fiber only one-eighth of a millimeter thick and covered with plastic, is placed in the ground for monitoring either as a single strand or in the form of mats. There he feels every fine crack on a distance of a few hundred meters to several kilometers and reports the rumbling in the earth to the meter exactly. "Because the inferno often days to months with twitching in the ground or building announces, people can be evacuated in time and taken precautions, " said Nils Nöther from Berlin start-up company fibrisTerre in the current issue of the magazine "Technology Review".

While previous warning systems are based on larger equipment in air-conditioned measuring containers, fibrisTerre has succeeded in converting the measuring method to digital technology and accommodating it in a small handy device. This saves costs and reduces the effort. The company succeeded in digitizing it by no longer sending the laser light continuously through the fibers, but as individual packages of nanosecond light that can be translated into zeros and ones. "There is hardly any noise. Our signal is much cleaner and consumes less power, "says Nöther.

(Heise Media / Technology Review, 24.02.2011 - NPO)