Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A New Twist On Fiber Optics


Spiraling glass fibers provide new way to control behavior of light

By twisting fiber optic strands into helical shapes, researchers have created unique structures that can precisely filter, polarize or scatter light. Compatible with standard fiber optic lines, these hair-like structures may replace bulky components in sensors, gyroscopes and other devices.

While researchers are still probing the unusual properties of the new fibers, tests show the strands impart a chiral, or "handed," character to light by polarizing photons according to certain physical properties.

Victor Kopp of Chiral Photonics in Clifton, N.J., and his colleagues describe the new fibers in the July 2 issue of Science.

Several of these fibers, and their applications, are being developed in part with funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research program.

In conventional optical fibers, light is transmitted from one end to the other through a round core housed within a concentric outer cladding. But, because a circular core does not develop handedness when twisted, the research team wound rectangular-core fibers to create a double helix.

When the team tested the twisted fiber, they discovered that some photons left the core and entered the cladding. Photons with the same handedness as the fiber entered the cladding whereas photons with handedness opposite that of the fiber remained in the core.

With only a relatively loose twist-roughly 100 microns to form a complete turn-photons with a handedness that coincides with the fiber’s twist scatter out of the core at a shallow angle and are trapped in the cladding. With a tighter twist, photons with the same handedness as the fiber scatter at a wider angle, allowing the photons to escape from the cladding into the surrounding space. Only light of a single polarization remains in the fiber (see animation). At the tightest twists, roughly one-millionth of a meter to complete a turn, photons with the same handedness as the structure are reflected backwards in the core.

Because the environment surrounding the fiber affects the wavelength of the light embedded in the cladding, "loosely" twisted fibers can serve as sensors for pressure, temperature, torque and chemical composition.

With moderately twisted fibers, researchers can manipulate the resulting polarized light in useful ways, leading to a range of applications such as gyroscopes for navigation systems, current meters for electric power stations, and chemical and materials analysis equipment.

For tightly wound fibers, the amount of twist determines the precise wavelength of the light remaining in the fiber, producing light that is ideal for filter and laser applications. Chiral Photonics is developing manufacturing processes for commercial production of the technology. Using a small filament oven, technicians soften the optical fibers while twisting them, which allows greater control of the process.

This research was funded both NSF and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program.

Comments from NSF:

"This technology could be one of the most significant recent advances in the field of polarization and wavelength control. Equally impressive is the innovative science that will be developed based on this new technology. This project should advance the current understanding in advanced fiber structures." - Winslow Sargeant, the NSF program officer who oversees the Chiral Photonics SBIR award.

"There is an enormous host of applications for which chiral fiber gratings could find markets. Fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) are a well-established technology for transmitting data, but suffer from high cost due to the equipment and time required to craft them. Chiral fiber gratings can replace FBGs in some applications with the possible added advantage of low-cost production." - Winslow Sargeant

Comments from the researchers:

"We believe the creative process is only beginning as these photonic building blocks that add functionality into fiber are being introduced to the ingenuity of photonic designers and their applications." - Dan Neugroschl, President, Chiral Photonics.

"We have shown that chiral fibers with a wide range of twists can be created in a versatile continuous manufacturing process under computer control. These fibers are the physical structure in which different states of a light wave can be coupled to perform useful functions." - Azriel Genack, CTO, Chiral Photonics.

"These fibers are unique because light moving along the fiber core with a specific wavelength and polarization can either be coupled to a more slowly moving wave in the cladding surrounding the fiber core, or be scattered out of the fiber or be sent backwards within the core." - Victor Kopp, Director of R&D

Julie A. Smith | NSF
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Neutrons pave the way to accelerated production of lithium-ion cells
20.03.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Monocrystalline silicon thin film for cost-cutting solar cells with 10-times faster growth rate fabricated
16.03.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>