NEPCON West - Fiberoptic Expo Conference Proceedings


Author: Salil Pradhan et al.
Company: SUNY Binghamton
Date Published: 12/3/2002   Conference: NEPCON West - Fiberoptic Expo

Abstract: During the manufacture of Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers (EDFAs) and other optoelectronic devices ,fusion splicing and fiber management are extremely critical from the standpoint of product functionality. Fusion splicing programs must be ‘optimized’ so that a low loss is obtained between two similar or dissimilar fibers and the resultant splice must be mechanically sound. The spliced glass is typically covered either with a heat shrinkable, protective sleeve or recoated with a polymer acrylate. This recoating process protects the splice. However, it does not add to the strength of the splice. The splice remains extremely susceptible to failure. Thus, it is essential to qualify the strength of the splice before it is used in a specific application.

The strength of a splice depends upon the processes that make a splice. Two different fusion splicers were evaluated in this research. The splicers had different features with respect to the fusion splicing process. Splicer A was a semi-automatic splicer in which the fiber preparation stages (stripping, cleaning, and cleaving) were operator dependent. Splicer B was also a semiautomatic splicer with the fiber preparation stages being partially automated. In other words, fiber handling was minimized in the splicer B.

Experiments were conducted in which the strength of Single Mode Fiber (SMF) splices (SMF-SMF) were evaluated. Multiple readings were taken on both the splicers. Similar readings were taken on splicer B with different fiber combinations. Designed experiments were conducted to identify the factors that affect the strength of the splices. It was established that the stripping and the cleaving process do not significantly affect the strength of the fusion splices. The most important process that affects the strength is the cleaning process. During the process of evaluation, the ultrasonic process on splicer B was compared against the manual cleaning process on splicer A. Fiber handling is minimized in the ultrasonic cleaning process. This is the single most important factor vis-à-vis the strength of the fusion splices.

Generic guidelines that can be used to evaluate fusion splicers for high strength applications are presented. In addition to the capability of the splicers to obtain a low insertion loss, it is extremely critical to realize the amount of fiber handling involved in the splicing operations. The experimental methodology and the results are also presented.

Key words: fusion splicing, splice strength, recoating.

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