Telecommunications equipment giant Lucent Technologies Inc. is developing a new generation of plastic optic fiber. The Murray Hill, N.J., firm said the fiber is based on a perfluorinated polymer called Cytop supplied by Asahi Glass Co. of Japan. Lucent expects to commercialize applications within 18 months, according to project manager John George.
George said the new fiber allows faster data transmission than conventional plastic optic fibers based on polymethyl methacrylate. Signal loss also is smaller, allowing longer link lengths than with conventional plastic optic fiber, he said in a telephone interview from Lucent's Optical Fibers Solutions center in Atlanta. In addition, the fiber thickness, at 120 microns, is much smaller than conventional PMMA fibers of 900 microns.
Lucent aims to apply the new fiber to specialty uses involving distances of less than 110 yards. It can carry high data loads because it will support transmitters with light waves ranging from 850-1,300 nanometers.
The new fiber, like other plastic fibers, offers advantages over glass optic fibers for short-haul uses such as local-area networks.
Plastic fibers are attached easily to transmitters, essentially by cutting the fiber and mating it to the connector. Glass fibers, although they have higher transmission rates, need to have their ends polished and carefully aligned in costly transmitters, which is made more difficult by their narrow width, about 62.4 microns on average.
"We have broken the speed and distance barriers that have limited the use of conventional plastic optical fiber in some specialty applications, while preserving the easy connector mounting possible with other types of plastic fiber," noted Xina Quan, director of Photonics Packaging Research at Bell Labs Innovations, the research and development division of Lucent.