Abstract

Frozen-in viscoelasticity has a significant, yet previously overlooked,impact on the refractive index profile of optical fibers and can serve as the basis for novel fiber devices. Viscoelastic strains can be frozen into an optical fiber during draw, or by cooling down a drawn fiber from high temperature while under tension. The resulting refractive index perturbation can exceed 0.003, exhibits minimal birefringence, and is concentrated in the highest viscosity region of the fiber. We have developed a quantitative theory for the refractive index perturbation, which is in excellent agreement with measured data. We have harnessed frozen-in viscoelasticity to create novel high-performance all-fiber beam expanders achieving mode field diameters in excess of 40 µm. These beam expanders are suitable for low-cost high-volume manufacturing and can serve as the basis for high-power single-mode fiber (SMF) connectors, since their lower power density improves reliability during high-power operation. Because of the significant reduction in free-space diffraction associated with the enlarged mode field diameter, these beam expanders may be suitable for MEMS applications, or for coupling between optical fiber terminations and optical fiber sources or detectors.

© 2004 IEEE

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