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Special Session: Dr. David Hill

Dr. David Hill

Commercial Responsible
QinetiQ Ltd, Winfrith Technology Centre, Winfrith Newburgh, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8XJ. United Kingdom

[David Hill]

David Hill is a Chartered Scientist who holds a BSc(Hons) in Imaging Science from the University of Westminster, and a PhD in Fibre-Optic Hydrophone Design from the University of Kent. During his career at QinetiQ he has worked on experimental and theoretical aspects of underwater acoustic and vibration research and has developed fibre-optic sensing technologies for military and civil use. He is currently the capability leader for fibre-optic sensing within QinetiQ and is responsible for the commercial exploitation of the technology.


The evolution and exploitation of the fibre-optic hydrophone

David Hill

QinetiQ Ltd, Winfrith Technology Centre, Winfrith Newburgh, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8XJ. United Kingdom

In the late 1970s one of the first applications identified for fibre-optic sensing was the fibre-optic hydrophone. It was recognised that the technology had the potential to provide a cost effective solution for large-scale arrays of highly sensitive hydrophones which could be interrogated over large distances. Consequently both the United Kingdom and United States Navies funded the development of this sonar technology to the point that it is now deployed on submarines and as seabed arrays. The design of a fibre-optic hydrophone has changed little; comprising a coil of optical fibre wound on a compliant mandrel, interrogated using interferometric techniques. Although other approaches are being investigated, including the development of fibre-laser hydrophones, the interferometric approach remains the most efficient way to create highly multiplexed arrays of acoustic sensors. So much so, that the underlying technology is know being exploited in civil applications. Recently the exploration and production sector of the oil and gas industry has begun funding the development of fibre-optic seismic sensing using seabed mounted, very large-scale arrays of four component (three accelerometers and a hydrophone) packages based upon the original technology developed for sonar systems. This has given new impetus to the development of the sensors and the associated interrogation systems which has led to the technology being adopted for other commercial uses. These include the development of networked in-road fibre-optic Weigh-in-Motions sensors and of intruder detection systems which are able to acoustically monitor long lengths of border, on both land and at sea. After two decades, the fibre-optic hydrophone and associated technology has matured and evolved into a number of highly capable sensing solutions used by a range of industries.

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