To study the hydroxyl (OH)-group contamination mechanisms in silica-based optical fibers, the transmission spectra of substrate tubes and fiber preforms made from various types of silica glasses ("Suprasil F-300," KS-4V, and KUVI) are measured by the method of infrared Fourier spectroscopy in a wavelength region of 2-5 µm. Due to the intensity of the fundamental OH stretching vibration band, the absorption coefficient, concentration, and a distribution profile of OH groups across the aforesaid samples are calculated. It is found that using an oxyhydrogen burner in the modified chemical vapor deposition (MCVD) process of manufacturing preforms and fiber drawing, the main source of impurity OH groups can be the molecular hydrogen H2 penetrating into glass much deeper than the OH groups diffusing from the substrate tube surface. A simple model explaining the formation and diffusion of OH groups into a fiber core and cladding is proposed. It is shown that heating tubes and preforms in a flame of oxyhydrogen burner during fiber fabrication causes a significant OH-group content growth (almost by two orders of magnitude) near to the outer preform surface. Using substrate tubes made from Suprasil F-300 glass, optical fibers are fabricated having a silica core and fluorosilicate reflecting cladding with optical losses of 0.3 dB/km at 1.55 µm and a refractive-index difference between core and cladding ~ 1 · 10^-2.
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