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In this work, highly sensitive refractive index measurements have been experimentally demonstrated by using thinned fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. When the cladding diameter is reduced, significant changes in the effective refractive index occur due to surrounding medium refractive index modifications, leading to Bragg wavelength shifts. Uniformly thinned FBGs have been obtained by using wet chemical etching in hydrofluoric acid solutions. In order to prove sensor sensitivity, experimental tests have been carried out by using glycerine solutions with well-known refractive indices. Obtained results agree well with the numerical analysis carried out by using the three-layer fiber model. If the cladding layer is completely removed, resolutions of ≈10-5 and ≈10-4 for the outer refractive index around 1.450 and 1.333, respectively, are possible. Finally, a novel approach based on the selective etching along the grating region has been analyzed, leading to high-sensitivity refractive index sensors based on intensity measurements.