Specialty Optical Fibers Tutorial:

Fundamentals, Types, Applications and Trends

Alexis Mendez, PhD.
MCH Engineering LLC
Alameda, CA (USA)

The transport of optical radiation through a flexible, inexpensive conduit has changed our lives and utterly transformed the way by which we communicate as embodied in the millions of kilometers of telecommunications optical fiber that span the earth and seas. However, more and more, a new subset of custom-tailored optical fibers commonly known as specialty fibers are making an impact and serious commercial inroads in non-telecom fields such as in industrial sensing, bio-medical laser delivery systems, military gyro sensors, as well as automotive lighting & control—to name just a few—and spanned applications as diverse as oil well downhole pressure sensors to intra-aortic catheters. These new applications impose diverse material and structure requirements that call for new fiber designs with altogether different operation and properties. In this tutorial, a brief overview will be made on the fundamental material, design and fabrication aspects common to specialty fibers, along with a summary of the most relevant fiber types and their applications. Pertinent comments will be made as to the commercial status and future trends.