Abstract

This article presents an innovative way for additive manufacturing of optical multimode waveguides for short range data transmission. By the use of aerosol jet printing between conditioning lines on flexible foils, low cost, and low weight polymer optical waveguides can be easily fabricated. The main advantages – compared to other waveguide manufacturing techniques – are the maximum fabricable waveguide length (not limited by panel- or wafer size), technology costs and 3D-ability. Furthermore, the printing allows for very long structures, which are not limited to wafer or panel sizes. In order to classify the new manufacturing approach and compare it to other technologies such as photolithography, imprinting, dispensing and ion-exchange, results on the mechanical (shear strength) and optical performance (transmittance, near field and attenuation) are presented. In addition, the experimental results on the data transmission performance are important to prove the suitability of the waveguides for high-speed communication applications. In this context, nearly error-free transmission up to 10 Gbit/s was achieved at a wavelength of 850 nm.

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