We report on a study of the loss mechanisms in microstructured polymer optical fibers (mPOF), resulting in the fabrication of mPOF with a loss equal to that of commercial polymer optical fibers of 0.16 dB/m at 650 nm, nearing the limit imposed by material absorption. The contributions of confinement loss, macroscopic defects, microbending, and surface roughness are investigated and quantified. The temperature stability of mPOF is also investigated and is dependent on stresses introduced into the fiber during fabrication. A method for achieving stable operation up to 90 °C with a minimal increase in fiber loss is outlined.
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