Fionn Downes

The Use of an Optical Fibre Sensing Structure Based on a Palladium Alloy for the Design of a Robust Hydrogen Sensor.

Supervisor: Dr Cian Taylor

Funding Body: IT Sligo President’s Bursary


Hydrogen gas has become an increasingly important source of clean and renewable energy. However, it is extremely flammable when mixed with air and can ignite at concentrations of only 4.6%. Due to the small size of Hydrogen molecules, containers or vessels used to hold Hydrogen are very susceptible to leakage. It is therefore clear that the increased future focus on Hydrogen as an energy source will bring a need for robust, fast, and safe hydrogen sensors for deployment in leakage detection systems.

The project involves the investigation of an SPR optical fibre sensor for Hydrogen sensing applications. The proposed sensor will operate on the principle that certain metals (e.g. Palladium) spontaneously absorb Hydrogen with a resulting change in their optical properties. These changes can be detected by surface plasmon resonance if such a metal is coated in a carefully controlled way on an optical fibre, for example.

The objective of the project will be to develop and use a mathematical model to design an optimum hydrogen sensor based on an optical fibre coated with a Palladium Alloy. The project goal is to identify a sensing material which gives superior performance than that of a recently reported sensor which employed pure Palladium.

Keywords: hydrogen sensing, SPR sensors, optical fibre sensors, surface plasmon resonance

2019/20 Fulltime Prospectus IT Sligo