We show that it is possible to determine the refractive index distribution of a fiber or preform with slight index variation by observing the power distribution of the light field that is focused by the core acting as a lens. This method requires index matching of the cladding and illumination of the core at right angles to its axis with a broad beam of incoherent collimated light. The refractive index distribution is obtained after two numerical integrations to be performed by computer. The first integration establishes the relation between the output and input ray positions from the observed power distribution, the second uses this information to determine the refractive index distribution. However, it is not necessary to solve a large system of simultaneous equations. The sensitivity of the method to measurement inaccuracies was tested by computer simulation. It was found that the method has a builtin smoothing effect that attenuates rather than amplifies measurement errors.
© 1979 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article