Laser Processing of Next Generation Optical Fibre Interconnects

Lead Participant: OpTek Limited

Abstract

The Feasibility of high speed, low cost automated termination of optical fibres will be
determined within this project. The 2X annual growth of the internet and rise of ultrahigh
definition video means fibre optics is taking over from electrical cables as the only viable
method of moving data even short distances, whether that is between the millions of servers
and switches in a data centres or between high definition video equipment and the television.
This is creating a demand 10 billion fibre optics cables, all of which need the ends of the
optical fibre to be terminated with a quality and consistent finish.
The dominant optical fibre termination technology used by industry today involves manually
polishing the fibre end using low cost labour. This produces inconsistent results and is not
compatible with automation or the step-up in volume required. OpTek have previously
developed and patented a method of laser processing fibres that is already used in high
precision niche low volume industrial applications. This Proof-of-Concept investigates
whether the cost of such solutions can be reduced to match the target prices demanded in
these high volume applications. This will require innovative laser and optical arrangements,
matched to the actual optical performance criteria required of the optical fibre terminations.
Closely allied with capital cost is processing speed, and this is also addressed within the
project, together with integration into the larger, automated production line.
The results of the project will determine the design criteria for a new generation of fibre optics
termination equipment which will enable fibre optics cable to be manufactured without
reliance on low cost labour, underpinning the growth of UK manufacture of next generation
datacommunications and interconnect equipment based on photonic technologies.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

OpTek Limited, United Kingdom £159,970 £ 95,982

Publications

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