Microstructured Polymer Optical Fibre (mPOF) Facilities
The OptoFab facility specialises in microstructured polymer optical fibre(mPOF), mPOF preform fabrication and fibre characterisation and post-processing. This facility is up and running and available to NCRIS users. The majority of work undertaken historically can be divided into three categories: single-mode, multi-mode high bandwidth and hollow-core mPOF.
The main equipment is a commercial polymer fibre draw tower. This was custom-built by Heathway and installed in 2004. The tower has two sides which can accommodate 80 mm diameter and 25 mm diameter preforms respectively. Fibre diameters in the range 100 – 1000 microns are possible, whilst 200 – 600 are more typical. The furnaces reach 270 C, although furnaces capable of 1000 C will be available from 2009 to widen the variety of materials that can be drawn. Fibre diameter, temperature and tension are monitored and pressure or vacuum may be applied whilst drawing.
Related facilities include a CNC mill for preform fabrication. Basic characterisation of the fibres will also be available (transmission loss, optical and SEM microscopy), as well as limited processing (e.g. imprinting of long period gratings in single-mode mPOF for strain sensing).
The majority of fibre fabrication uses PMMA, although polycarbonate and polystyrene have also been used. A variety of organic and inorganic dopants may also be incorporated into the polymer.