Laser Processing of Next Generation Optical Fibre Interconnects

Lead Participant: OpTek Limited

Abstract

A Prototype of a game-changing laser-based method for processing optical fibre connectors
for high-speed, low-cost termination of optical fibres will be developed 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 centre or
between high-definition video equipment and the television. This is creating a demand for 10
billion fibre optic cables, all of which need the ends of the optical fibre to be terminated with
an optical 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 with the step-up in volume required.
OpTek have previously developed and patented a method of laser processing fibres that is
used in high-precision low-volume niche applications that can tolerate high cost. Additionally,
OpTek has internally developed the capability to achieve the required quality in a lower-cost
platform as part of a Proof-of-Concept project.
The present project translates this platform into a Prototype machine to match the target prices
demanded in these high-volume applications. This will be based on the innovative laser and
optical arrangements developed in the previous Proof-of-Concept stage, matched to the actual
optical performance criteria required of the optical fibre terminations.
The Prototype will be suitable for manufacture in the UK, providing a way for OpTek and the
UK to participate and benefit from the once in a lifetime opportunity driven by the shift form
copper to fibre which would otherwise only be appropriate to low-cost-base geographies.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

OpTek Limited, United Kingdom £378,111 £ 170,150

Publications

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