Abstract

Recently, optical fibers comprising a crystalline semiconductor core in a silica cladding have been successfully drawn by a conventional drawing process. These fibers are expected to exhibit a photoconductive response when illuminated by photons more energetic than the band gap of the core. In the photoconducting state, such a fiber can be expected to support driven RF currents so as to function as an antenna element, much as a plasma antenna. In this paper, we report the first device-related results on a crystalline semiconductor core optical fiber potentially useful in a photoconducting optical fiber antenna array; namely, optically induced changes to the electrical conductivity of a glass-clad germanium-core optical fiber. Since DC photoconduction measurements were masked by a photovoltaic effect, RF measurements at 5MHz were used to determine the magnitude of the induced photoconductive effect. The observed photoconductivity, though not large in the present experiment, was comparable to that measured for the bulk crystals from which the fibers were drawn. The absorbed pumping light generated photo-carriers, thereby transforming the core from a dielectric material to a conductor. This technology could thus enable a class of transient antenna elements useful in low observable and reconfigurable antenna array applications.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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