Glass fiber reinforced composite material beams embedded with two types of polarimetric sensors are fabricated by the hand layup method and characterized. Two types of polarimetric sensors, a high strain sensitive Panda type fiber and a low strain sensitive polarization maintaining photonic crystal fiber (PM-PCF), are compared for low frequency vibration measurements from 0 to 100 Hz. Different lengths of glass fiber reinforced composite samples with embedded polarimetric sensors are fabricated and
compared for different vibration amplitudes and vibration frequencies. The influence of the vibration amplitude of the composite beams on the accuracy of vibration measurements using the two types of polarimetric sensors is investigated. At high amplitude vibrations the low strain sensitive PM-PCF polarimetric sensors offer a wider linear range and thus reproduce the vibration frequency and vibration amplitude accurately. However for high amplitude vibrations the high sensitivity and low dynamic strain range of Panda type fibers result in a multiple-peak intensity pattern within one vibration cycle which leads to inaccurate vibration frequency and vibration amplitude measurements. The experimental results show that the strain sensitivity of polarimetric sensors limits the vibration measurements to a certain range of vibration amplitudes. The vibration amplitude range over which the polarimetric sensors provide accurate information about the vibration frequency is experimentally investigated and the results are presented. Also, for a composite beam undergoing deflections in the ‘simply–simply supported’ configuration, a theoretical method to predict the allowable maximum measurable vibration amplitude for any type of polarimetric sensor, is derived in this paper. It is envisaged that the results from the
studies will provide significant information, which can be used in composite material applications such as marine and aerospace for selecting an appropriate type and length of polarimetric sensor for vibration measurements in composite materials.