It’s common to isolate communications between systems or devices by using fiber optic cables, said Steve Sanderson of Sandia’s mobility analysis and technical assessment division. But when power also is required, sending it down a copper wire can at times be a safety issue, and substituting it with battery power may not be suitable or practical, he said.
Sanderson, Titus Appel and Walter Wrye, a former Sandia intern, are co-inventors of a hybrid cable design that uses fiber to send and regulate optical power to the communications electronics integral to the cable. A patent is pending on the design.
The developers envision their cable replacing existing copper cables in applications related to safety, such as security, explosives, explosion-proof devices, aviation and medical devices.
“The PoF cable has power limitations,” Sanderson said. “It’s not to be construed as a means to power your house, for example, or handle the high speeds of a computer network.
“But because there are growing needs of low-power sensor/control applications related to safety, having convenient optically generated power available is a tremendous benefit.”
The PoF cable ends resemble a typical copper electrical cable with pin and socket connectors. However, optical interface circuits integrated into the connector housing, called a backshell, provide fiber optic transmission of both data communications and optical power.
To conserve energy, optical power is delivered only on demand, Sanderson said.
“The key issue here is to maintain total electrical isolation from any stray electrical energy and high-voltage electrical surges caused by such things as lightning strikes,” he said.
The first-generation PoF cable just delivers optical power to the cable’s internal electronics for data communication between devices. The researchers now are adding the capability to deliver electrical power externally to a connected low-power device, Sanderson said.
In the cable’s current version, the backshell encapsulates circular stacked circuit boards with LEDs coupled to plastic optical fibers for communications, and a laser diode and miniaturized photovoltaic-type cell coupled to the ends of a single glass fiber to deliver optical power.
In the next version, the team plans to use only glass fibers. “Although plastic fiber requires less preparation time than glass, it takes up more room,” Sanderson said.
The team recently tested a PoF low-energy detonator firing cable with fireset electronics built into the backshell. The optically powered fireset embeds a microcontroller that reports such things as detonator resistance, temperature and charging voltages, and receives command messages to fire the detonator. When it’s idle or powered down, the circuitry is designed to short the detonator input leads to prevent unwanted electrical energy from reaching it.
The researchers are working with next-generation microcontrollers, new packaging layouts and new optical devices to reduce the size. Team members also are developing a rugged, production-ready PoF cable and are working to reduce the backshell’s length, decrease the weight and lower costs.
“One of our ongoing objectives is to reduce the physical size so that it’s more widely used,” said Sanderson.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated and managed by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
Sandia news media contact: Sue Holmes, email@example.com, (505) 844-6362
Sue Holmes | Newswise Science News
Electrical fields drive nano-machines a 100,000 times faster than previous methods
19.01.2018 | Technische Universität München
ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records
16.01.2018 | Institut für Solarenergieforschung GmbH
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy