Fiber optic cables, it turns out, can be incredibly useful scientific sensors. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have studied them for use in carbon sequestration, groundwater mapping, earthquake detection, and monitoring of Arctic permafrost thaw. Now they have been awarded new grants to develop fiber optics for two novel uses: monitoring offshore wind operations and underground natural gas storage.
An optical sensor developed at Berkeley Lab could speed up the time it takes to evaluate whether buildings are safe to occupy after a major earthquake. After four years of extensive peer-reviewed research and simulative testing at the University of Nevada’s Earthquake Engineering Laboratory, the Discrete Diode Position Sensor (DDPS) will be deployed for the first time this summer in a multi-story building at Berkeley Lab – which sits adjacent to the Hayward Fault, considered one of the most dangerous faults in the United States.