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Air-guided fibre optic overcomes attenuation limits of conventional fibres

Published: 1 December 2020
Guiding light through air filled fibre offers a potential way to overcome the limitations of traditional optical fibre

Hollow-core optical fibres invented and fabricated at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have demonstrated their potential to outperform and ultimately replace silica fibres in key application areas.

The new fibres can surpass current attenuation limits caused by the scattering of light in glass and trigger dramatic advances in quantum communications, data transmission, and laser power delivery.

The latest research, published in Nature Communications, exhibited transmission losses comparable or lower than that achieved in standard solid glass fibres around technologically relevant wavelengths of 660, 850, and 1060 nanometres.

Professor Francesco Poletti, Head of the Hollow Core Fibre Group, says: "We are convinced that we might have finally identified a solution with the potential to complement and, in many cases, replace all-solid silica fibres that have been the mainstay in domestic, laboratory-based and commercial applications for half a century.

"Our findings show that not only our nested antiresonant nodeless hollow core fibres have lower attenuation than conventional fibres, but they can also maintain the polarisation of light better and withstand higher laser intensities, such as those needed to produce more efficient lasers for manufacturing, melt rocks and drill oil wells."

The Nested Antiresonant Nodeless Fibres (NANFs) developed and reported in the paper are the result of over 10 years research by the ORC within the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics. In this time, researchers have improved attenuation in the fibres by a factor of 10,000, and nowadays measure only 5 dB of loss (~30% transmission) after 10 kilometres of propagation at a wavelength of 1060nm.

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