As the photonics industry marches toward miniaturization, one component manufacturer plans to improve telecommunications technology with a way to create 180° optical fiber bends with low losses and small diameters. Thomas & Betts Corp. of Memphis, Tenn., introduced the technology, called the MiniBend 180, at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference, saying that it can reduce the size of telecommunications equipment dramatically.MiniBend technology enables the creation of small-diameter bends in optical fibers, leading to smaller systems and increased density in fiber networks. MiniBend 180 is a patented technology that produces fiber bend diameters as small as 1 mm with optical losses as low as 0.2 dB. Previously, bending optical fibers in such small diameters resulted in severe optical losses. These components, which have an outside diameter of only 12 mm, mean not only a reduced package size, but also increased circuit density -- a crucial consideration for service providers as they expand network capacity to meet the soaring demands of telephony and data communications. In the MiniBend configuration, the fiber tapers at the bend and the air/glass interface is responsible primarily for guiding the light. Because light does not leave the fiber, the MiniBend fiber also exhibits good thermal stability. Thomas & Betts, a manufacturer of connectors and components for electrical and electronic products, also is using this technology to construct a single-sided splitter where all fibers exit from the same end. This device reduces component size and eliminates the need for the 50-mm fiber loops often seen in fiber management systems. In addition, users can fit the splitters against the corners of circuit boards to increase component density. The company also will use MiniBend to develop right-angle and flexible connectors, as well as rotary joints.