Microstructured Polymer Optical Fibres
Microstructured polymer optical fibres use a pattern of holes running the length of the fibre to achieve their optical effects. They use a single polymer material, and modifications of the microstructure can produce a wide variety of optical effects, some of which are difficult, or impossible to achieve using conventional polymer fibres.
Traditional polymer fibres have excellent mechanical properties, but have been restricted in their applications by loss and the difficulty in fabricating particular types of fibre. Microstructured fibres greatly increase the number of types of polymer fibre that can be made, while maintaining the adventageous mechanical properties of polymer.
This invention covers the use and manufacture of microstructured polymer optic fibres. Making microstructured fibres in polymer has some real advantages. The most compelling of these is that it is possible to combine the “gourmet” properties of microstructured fibres with the vast range of polymer processing techniques and the excellent mechanical properties of polymer. It also has the potential to side-step some of the problems with conventional polymer fibres, for example by allowing a large variety of fibre structures (such as single mode, graded index and multi-core fibres) to be made using a single fabrication technique. This allow new types of structures to be made as well as allowing for a large range of materials to be incorporated in the fibre, such as laser dyes, to create fibres with unique properties.
Some of the examples of fibres that have been made include:
- single mode fibres
- very high numerical aperture fibres
- doped fibres for fibre lasers
- birefringent fibres
- multicore fibres for imaging or interconnect applications
- graded index fibres for high data transmission and
- hollow-core fibres which allow guidance of light in air.