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Fluoride Glass Fiber Technology

Fluoride Fiber (FF) is multi-composite glass optical fiber composed of several heavy metal fluorides.
ZBLAN fiber ( ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF ) and AlF3-based fiber(AlF3-BaF2-SrF2-CaF2-MgF2-YF3) are well known. Compared with silica fiber, FF has many unique characteristics in wide operating wavelength range and high emission efficiency when rare-earth elements are doped into.
>Fluoride fiber fabrication
Fabrication of FF with low loss is very difficult, because CVD technique popular in silica fiber manufacturing can not be applied due to lack of gaseous raw materials. Over the long years studying, FiberLab Inc. has established its own techniques to manufacture both kinds of fluoride fiber, ZBLAN fiber and AlF3-based fiber with low loss less than 0.1dB/m. We, FL, have been continuing our R&D activities to improve our own manufacturing technique to achieve further low loss value by removing impurities and other origins.
         
>ZBLAN fiber for NIR/IR spectroscopy
Fig.1 shows loss spectra among three different kinds of glass fibers. Compared to other fibers, ZBLAN fiber has the widest transmission range from 0.4 to 4μm. Thus, ZBLAN fiber is applied to optical guides for NIR and IR spectroscopies.
                  Fig.1 Loss spectra of three kinds of fiber
>AlF3-based fiber for 2.9μm Er:YAG laser power delivery
Though IR transmission range in AlF3-based fiber is not as wide as in ZBLAN fiber, it has low optical loss at 2.94µm, higher laser damage thresholds, better mechanical properties and more excellent durability against moisture(See Table1). Thus, AlF3-based fiber is applied to optical guides for Er-YAG laser delivery.
Table1. Comparison of AIF3-based glass and ZVLAN glass
áProperties AlF3 glass ZBLAN glass
Opticalá Transmission range 0.3~3.5Ám 0.35~4.0Ám
Refractive index(nd) 1.46 1.51
Thermalá Glass transition temperature(Tg) 367°C 265°C
Thermal expansion(a) 186x10-7/°C 200x10-7/°C
Chemicalá Water solubility(Dw) 0.27wt% 29.2wt%
Acid solubility(Da) 0.69wt%* 32wt%*
Physicalá Density 3.85g/cm3 4.50g/cm3
Mechanicalá Young's modulus(E) 66GPa 53GPa
Knoop hardness(HK) 3.1GPa 2.2GPa
>Emission of rare-earth element doped ZBLAN Fiber
Excellent emission characteristic is huge advantages of ZBLAN fiber, when rare earth element doped into.
Fig.2 shows emission wavelengths of rare-earth element doped fiber. Silica fiber gives out emission but limited to the range only in near infrared region, as we marked "  ".
Based on this emission characteristic, FL has been providing our own products, such as Optical Amplifiers, ASE Light Sources, Fiber Lasers, and other optical devices. Besides, ZBLAN fiber covers the wider range of infrared lights and visible lights.
Also, emission of both 1.3 um and 1.4 um wavelength band is available by using none but ZBLAN fiber. Both wavelength bands are popular and major in optic fiber communication field.
To achieve better performance of emission characteristic, we, FL, have been developing glass composition and the best design of fiber parameters.
           
               Fig2. Emission of rare-earth element doped ZBLAN fiber
Our Value Proposition
Development of optical devices based on rare-earth doped fluoride fibers
(PROCEEDINGS OF SPIE Vol.4645)
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