In this work we study the particular case of an optical fiber subjected to compression-bending load, the most common loading configuration for testing fiber optic bending sensors. Our analysis is based on the foundations of column theory and reveals a progressive stress homogenization across the optical fiber with increasing bending. This effect is general to any optical fiber subjected to this load configuration and it is of particular interest for structures with multiple cores since the state of stress experienced by each core can significantly differ even for a condition of constant load. The approach outlined here captures relevant features observed in experiments with multicore fiber optic bending sensors. Also, this approach can be incorporated into coupled-mode theory for assessing the performance of spectrally operated fiber sensors based on multicore coupled structures under realistic conditions commonly encountered in the experiments and without the need of performing computationally expensive simulations. The progressive stress homogenization, as well as the regime of homogeneous stress dominated by the bending contribution, is experimentally demonstrated using a multicore optical fiber with three coupled cores. Our observations are similar to those reported in recent experiments using other multicore fibers with different number of cores.
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