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Mechanical Fibre Optic Switches

02 Nov 2021

Fibre optic switches based on mechanical technology such as micro-mechanical that self-aligns a fibre directly to another fibre offer many application advantages.  For the majority of applications there are many performance benefits over other fibre optic switch technologies.  For example, micro-mechanical versions with a small gap between fibres that can be filled with index-matching liquid making them well suited for LiDAR and reflective sensor monitoring systems.

There are a number of platforms which include MEMS for fibre counts up to 12 and motor-driven for large fibre port counts up to 300.  There are many advantages such as very low loss of about 0.3dB for all ports, broad wavelength operation from 200nm-4000nm, little back-reflection, can be used with any fibre types including large core fibre up to 2mm diameter, high attenuation/isolation and high optical power handling.  Markets that can benefit range from optical measurements/test systems telecommunications with their high reliability/low loss/broadband, spectroscopy (including Raman and fluorescence), industrial production and process control, telecommunications (protection/bypass (dual, quad, 850 to 1600 nm)), as well as the biomedical.

With index-matching liquid filling the light path between the fibres, this enables light propagation in a continuous medium without interruptions, no etalon effects, consequently eliminating the need for lenses and AR coating.

In respect of LiDAR and reflective sensor monitoring systems fibre optic switches based on MEMS fibre to fibre direct coupling are well suited, since there is no need for optical coated interfaces, no reflections or etalon effects.  They offer low optical loss, little wavelength dependence resulting from no reflection coatings, high power handling, high reliability/longevity, and high polarisation extinction ratio.

Further information https://www.lasercomponents.com/uk/fiber-optics/active-passive-components/optical-switches/

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