Sample Essay

Words 700

Manufacturers of lasers, amplifiers, connectors, filters, receivers, switches and other fiber optic components and modules are very worried about the amount of signal loss that occurs across the component-to-component or component-to-fiber junction. Due to the tremendously small size of optical fiber–8 or 9 microns for single-mode fiber cores, which is less than the width of a human hair–very high-resolution systems able of producing nanometer-scale displacements are required to reduce losses across the optical junction.

If the alignment of the optical fiber and component is off just slightly, the product will be useless. With packaging accounting for one-third to 50 percent of the cost of optical components, that’s something manufacturers plainly can’t afford.

The delicate and unpredictable nature of optical fiber creates many challenges for assemblers. During the alignment process, there are many different variables to take into account; for instance, the core of the fiber is not in the same place each time, because of the fiber manufacturing process.

An optical fiber is made with a process called the “gob drop,” a large perform rod of highly purified glass is mounted vertically in a furnace and heated to more than 1,200°C. The bottom tip, known as the gob, melts, separates from the cylinder and falls down a 4-story drawing tower, pulling behind it a thin strand of glass fiber. As it is exposed to air, the hot glass thread emerging from the furnace solidifies almost instantaneously. A protective coating and cladding are applied and the fiber is wound onto a large spool. (Webber)

Due to its small size, extreme accuracy and small displacements are necessary to correctly align fiber. Factors such as curvature of the fiber tip and the gripping position on a fiber pigtail add an extra degree of inconsistency to the alignment process. Another challenging factor is the lack of standardization in some of the products and techniques, such as packaging designs and attachment processes. (Webber)

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