8 May 2012 Design and fabrication of advanced fiber alignment structures for field-installable fiber connectors
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Abstract
Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) networks have been adopted as a potential replacement of traditional electrical connections for the 'last mile' transmission of information at bandwidths over 1Gb/s. However, the success and adoption of optical access networks critically depend on the quality and reliability of connections between optical fibers. In particular a further reduction of insertion loss of field-installable connectors must be achieved without a significant increase in component cost. This requires precise alignment of fibers that can differ in terms of ellipticity, eccentricity or diameter and seems hardly achievable using today's widespread ferrule-based alignment systems. Novel low-cost structures for bare fiber alignment with outstanding positioning accuracies are strongly desired as they would allow reducing loss beyond the level achievable with ferrule-bore systems. However, the realization of such alignment system is challenging as it should provide sufficient force to position the fiber with sub-micron accuracy required in positioning the fiber. In this contribution we propose, design and prototype a bare-fiber alignment system which makes use of deflectable/compressible micro-cantilevers. Such cantilevers behave as springs and provide self-centering functionality to the structure. Simulations of the mechanical properties of the cantilevers are carried out in order to get an analytical approximation and a mathematical model of the spring constant and stress in the structure. Elastic constants of the order of 104 to 105N/m are found out to be compatible with a proof stress of 70 MPa. Finally a first self-centering structure is prototyped in PMMA using our Deep Proton Writing technology. The spring constants of the fabricated cantilevers are in the range of 4 to 6 × 104N/m and the stress is in the range 10 to 20 MPa. These self-centering structures have the potential to become the basic building blocks for a new generation of field-installable connectors.
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Jürgen Van Erps, Jürgen Van Erps, Michael Vervaeke, Michael Vervaeke, Alberto Sánchez Martínez, Alberto Sánchez Martínez, Stefano Beri, Stefano Beri, Christof Debaes, Christof Debaes, Jan Watté, Jan Watté, Hugo Thienpont, Hugo Thienpont, } "Design and fabrication of advanced fiber alignment structures for field-installable fiber connectors", Proc. SPIE 8428, Micro-Optics 2012, 84280I (8 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.922245; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.922245
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