Fiber tapers have the potential to significantly advance instrument technology into the realm of fully integrated optical systems. Our initial investigation was directed at the use of fiber tapers as f-ratio transformation devices. Using a technique developed for testing focal ratio degradation (FRD), a collimated light source was injected at different angles into various fiber taper samples and the far-field profile of the fiber output was observed. We compare the FRD present in the optical fiber tapers with conventional fibers and determine how effectively fiber tapers perform as image converters. We demonstrate that while silica fiber tapers may have slightly more intrinsic FRD than conventional fibers they still show promise as adiabatic mode transformers and are worth investigating further for their potential use in astronomical instruments.
In this paper we present a brief review of the current status of fiber tapers with particular focus on the astronomical applications. We demonstrate the conservation of etendue in the taper transformation process and present the experimental results for a number of different taper profiles and manufacturers.