The temperature dependence of the fluorescence decay from an optically excited phosphor comprises an optical thermocouple that provides accurate and reliable measurements in environments where conventional temperature sensors are unreliable or inoperable. The phosphor can be incorporated onto an environmentally inert, nonconductive, non-metallic, miniature fiber-optic sensor, making it ideal for harsh operating conditions, in-vivo usage, or other applications where metal probes are useless.
This technique for measuring temperature is ideal for applications where high levels of electromagnetic interference (EMI) such as RF or microwave fields, or high voltages, are commonly encountered in such environments as electrical power generation, semiconductor fabrication, electronics testing, electrolytic processing, and RF or microwave heating and curing. Since the sensor itself is inert to chemical and biological agents, it is ideally suited to applications where a completely non-reactive sensor is required or where other types of sensors would malfunction or become damaged. Disposable sensors that fit in standard catheters, or sealed sensors, that can be catheterized and autoclaved may be utilized for medical applications. The sensors can also contain on-board calibration data, ensuring accurate temperature measurements.