Abstract

Optical simulation software based on the ray-tracing method offers easy and fast results in imaging optics. This method can also be applied in other fields of light propagation. For short distance communications, polymer optical fibers (POFs) are gradually gaining importance. This kind of fiber offers a larger core diameter, e.g., the step index POF features a core diameter of 980 μm. Consequently, POFs have a large number of modes (>3million modes) in the visible range, and ray tracing could be used to simulate the propagation of light. This simulation method is applicable not only for the fiber itself but also for the key components of a complete POF network, e.g., couplers or other key elements of the transmission line. In this paper a demultiplexer designed and developed by means of ray tracing is presented. Compared to the classical optical design, requirements for optimal design differ particularly with regard to minimizing the insertion loss (IL). The basis of the presented key element is a WDM device using a Rowland spectrometer setup. In this approach the input fiber carries multiple wavelengths, which will be divided into multiple output fibers that transmit only one wavelength. To adapt the basic setup to POF, the guidance of light in this element has to be changed fundamentally. Here, a monolithic approach is presented with a blazed grating using an aspheric mirror to minimize most of the aberrations. In the simulations the POF is represented by an area light source, while the grating is analyzed for different orders and the highest possible efficiency. In general, the element should be designed in a way that it can be produced with a mass production technology like injection molding in order to offer a reasonable price. However, designing the elements with regard to injection molding leads to some inherent challenges. The microstructure of an optical grating and the thick-walled 3D molded parts both result in high demands on the injection molding process. This also requires complex machining of the molding tool. Therefore, different experiments are done to optimize the process parameter, find the best molding material, and find a suitable machining method for the molding tool. The paper will describe the development of the demultiplexer by means of ray-tracing simulations step by step. Also, the process steps and the realized solutions for the injection molding are described.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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