Step-index single-mode optical fibers were tapered and then cleaved by ion beam milling to allow direct examination of the mode evolution in the taper with a microscope objective and CCD camera. Observation of HE1m modes is reported in tapered fibers cleaved at diameters ranging from 8 to 35 m. Theoretical scalar mode fields are fit to the experimental data and the mode transitions are explained by considering coupled-mode theory.


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