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OFS Successfully Splices Sapphire, Silica Fibers

NORCROSS, Ga., Feb. 7, 2013 — OFS, a fiber optic network products supplier and manufacturer, has successfully fusion-spliced silica and sapphire fibers using the company’s standard S178 portable fusion splicer. The achievement was announced this week at Photonics West 2013 in San Francisco.

OFS’ new splicing method overcomes traditional barriers to splicing these fibers caused by the difference in their physical properties, including their thermal expansion coefficients and the 200 ºC difference in their melting points. This development is a significant step toward extending the commercial application of sapphire fibers to extremely high temperature instrumentation.

Sapphire fibers can be used in a variety of applications, including optical sensing in harsh environments and laser delivery in medicine. These fibers offer excellent mechanical strength, hardness, corrosion resistance and a high melting point, and can be used in areas where other instrumentation is not possible due to geometric constraints, electromagnetic interference, chemical or radiological exposure, or risk of explosion or corrosion.

The high optical attenuation and high cost of sapphire fibers — both of which have limited the fiber length between the optical sensor and detector — have proved major drawbacks to their use. The new splicing technique, however, allows low-attenuation silica fibers to act as a lead-in fiber, significantly reducing the total optical attenuation.

OFS engineering manager Dr. Tom Liang, based at the company headquarters in Norcross, Ga., worked closely with The Ohio State University to develop the method.

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