Chapters 4 through 6 covered standard optical fibers whose main function is to guide light over relatively long distances, whether for communications or imaging. Other optical fibers are optimized for a variety of applications, from use in optical components to serving as pigtails that connect optical devices to standard transmission fibers. This chapter introduces the concept of specialty fibers, then describes important types and how they are used.
The first types covered are made by changing the standard properties of the fiber,
such as chromatic dispersion, polarization properties, cladding size, and bending sensitivity. A second group is made by adding materials to the fiber to change its properties, such as light-emitting elements for fiber amplifiers. Fiber Bragg gratings don’t fit neatly into these categories because their properties are altered by exposure to ultraviolet light after the fiber is drawn. Some graded-index fibers are made to serve as lenses. Finally, the chapter describes emerging types of special-purpose fibers based on photonic crystal technology. The operation and applications of fiber amplifiers are covered in Chapter 12, and those of fiber Bragg gratings are covered in Chapter 15. Fibers made specifically for sensing are covered in Chapter 29.
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