Research Briefs

janfeb13

research briefs Fiber optics of the future: Multifunctionality through multimaterials During the past 50 years, optical But, imagin- fibers have moved from novelty to ing new fibers ubiquity. Although the public pays and actually little attention to the composition of producing them these fibers, really, why should they? is easier said After all, most of the optical fiber in than done. The use today is of the “plain vanilla” vari- method used for ety composed primarily of silica glass. manufacturing These workhorse fibers now, of course, ordinary optical are the backbone of global telecom- fibers—“pulling” munications that deliver high-speed a continuous data and entertainment across conti- fiber from a nents and into homes and offices. Basic single-material optical fibers also have made possible macroscopic remarkable advances in surgery, struc- preform—is not tural-integrity systems, and manufactur- robust enough to ing, including advances in fiber-based do the trick. In lasers. fact, traditional But, although, ordinary silica optical drawing process- fibers will continue to play a big role es are not really (Credit: Tao et al.; IJAGS..) in the foreseeable future, a number of up to the task of scientists and engineers believe that making a new totally new types of uses for optical class of optical fibers could be in reach if the “right” fibers, photonic types of fibers were available. bandgap (PBG) Three of the general methodologies for multimaterial fiber preform What are some of the suggested new fibers, despite fabrication: (a) rod-in-tube, (b) extrusion, and (c) stack-and-draw uses? Some of the examples mentioned the fact that methods. among glass engineers include fibers making the the general constraints on the construc- that react with an electrical signal PBGs does not involve adding new tion of multimaterial preforms dictated when exposed to external light, tem- materials to silica. by the various materials. They elaborate perature changes, or ultrasonic signals; In response, a fascinating range of on four techniques used to create the fibers that monitor their own perfor- new multimaterial fiber fabrication preforms: the rod-in-tube approach; mance; and even fibers that may play methods are emerging that are making extrusion; stack-and-draw approach; a role in various types of “cloaking,” à more exotic forms of fibers a reality. and thin-film rolling. la metamaterials. Some have suggested Indeed, fabrication techniques must The authors then review the emerg- that revolutionary types of fabrics that often be customized to the materials ing palette of exotic photonic and opto- incorporate electronic and optoelec- in use and the functionalities desired. electric multimaterial fibers, including tronic fibers are easily foreseen. Along these lines, the International hollow-core PBGs, radially emitting Clearly, researchers have some- Journal of Applied Glass Science recently fiber lasers, fluoride and chalcogenide thing in mind beyond ordinary optical published in its December issue a tour glass fibers, semiconductor photodetect- fibers, and one of the ideas emerging de force overview of these techniques ing fibers, and piezoelectric fibers. in recent years is the concept of mul- in a paper authored by Guangming Tao, Abouraddy, and Stolyarov are timaterial fibers, i.e., using the intro- Tao, Ayman F. Abouraddy, and Alex- obviously excited about this new field, duction of new materials into the fiber ander M. Stolyarov (Tao and Abou- and they cover a lot of ground. They composition to yield new structures, raddy are from CREOL, the College even admit that some intriguing work functionalities, and applications. (See, of Optics and Photonics, University of was omitted. Readers will find that for example, “High-alumina optical Central Florida, and Stolyarov is from the authors’ excitement for where this fibers get around Brillouin scattering the Research Laboratory of Electronics work is going is extremely contagious. limitations,” in the October–Novem- at MIT). For more information, visit the IJAGS ber 2012 Bulletin, Vol. 98 1 pp The trio’s paper first discusses some website and read “Multimaterial Fibers” 16–17.) of the issues behind fiber drawing and (doi:10.1111/ijag.12007) n American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 92, No. 1 | www.ceramics.org 17


janfeb13
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