PolyU installs optical sensors in China's high-speed rail network

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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has collaborated with Southwest Jiaotong University and Dalian Jiaotung University (both in mainland China) to study the use of its proprietary advanced fibre Bragg grating sensor (FBG) systems for monitoring the structural health and safety of the nation’s rapidly-expanding high-speed rail network.

PolyU researchers and their mainland partners have already installed the advanced fibre Bragg grating railway monitoring system in several parts of the network, across China. Hundreds of optical sensors will provide information on vibration, acceleration and temperature change to engineering staff, helping them to monitor the condition of tracks and rail cars, as well as the structural health of the rail infrastructure.

Professor Alex Wai, vice president of R&D and chair professor of optical communications at PolyU, commented: 'Optical fibre technology has radically changed the way people communicate, and its application has extended to a wide range of fields including sensing systems, life science, measuring and structural engineering The unique characteristics of optical fibre sensing technology offer many advantages that make it ideal for use in railway systems.'

Over the years, the FBG technology developed by PolyU researchers has won international acclaim. In 2004, the FBG railway monitoring systems developed by Professor Tam Hwa-yaw won a Gold Award in the 32nd International Exhibition of Inventions held in Geneva. In the same year, the project of sensors and its application in the railway monitoring systems jointly developed by Professor HO Siu-lau and Professor Tam Hwa-yaw also won a Bronze Award in the 5th China International Invention Expo of Shanghai.