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Optical Engineering

Fluorescent optical liquid-level sensor
Author(s): Jonathan D. Weiss
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Paper Abstract

An optical method of detecting a liquid level is presented that uses fluorescence radiation generated in an impurity-doped glass or plastic slab. In operation, the slab is inserted into the liquid and pump light is coupled into it so that the light is guided by the slab-air interface above the liquid and escapes into the liquid just below its surface. Since the fluorescence is generated only in that section of the slab above the liquid, the fluorescence power will monotonically decrease with increasing liquid level. Thus, a relationship can be established between any signal proportional to it and the liquid level. Because optical fibers link the pump source and the detector of fluorescence radiation to the sensor, no electrical connections are needed in or near the liquid. Their absence vastly decreases the hazard associated with placing a liquidlevel sensor in a potentially explosive environment. A laboratory prototype, consisting of a methyl styrene slab doped with an organic dye, has been built and successfully tested in water. Its response to liquid level when pumped by a tunable argon-ion laser at 476, 488, and 496 nm, and by a blue LED, is presented and shown to be consistent with theory. The fluorescence spectra, optical efficiency, temperature, and other effects are also presented and discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 August 2000
PDF: 16 pages
Opt. Eng. 39(8) doi: 10.1117/1.1305539
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 39, Issue 8
Show Author Affiliations
Jonathan D. Weiss, Sandia National Labs. (United States)

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