Page 83 - 2020 Interconnect Innovations eBook
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Fiber Optic Technology Advancements
According to Research and Markets, the fiber optics market reached an estimated $4.3 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $6.9 billion by 2024, as optical networks continue to displace copper networks. Fiber optic technology is evolving to meet increased speed and efficiency demands in areas copper just cannot go. Several types of fiber optic technologies are leading this transition:
• All-Optical Networks (AON): Innovative optical couplers and optical switches allow data to be transmitted without any electrical processing, which can result in longer transmission distances.
• Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM): This process increases bandwidth capacity even further by allowing different carriers to transmit optical signals.
• Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM): This new technology forces light waves to twist in a spiral, increasing their ability to transmit information in a highly scalable manner. This method of transmission could increase transmission speeds by 100 times over the next few years.
• RF Over Fiber (RFoF): This technology transmits radio frequencies over optical fibers to leverage fiber’s immunity to electromagnetic interference and is ideal for use in military, aerospace, public works, stadium and entertainment venue, and commercial building applications.
Types of Fiber Optic Connectors
Fiber optic interconnects are a key component to the success of a fiber optic system. Fiber optic connectors mechanically couple and align the cores of fibers so light can efficiently pass through with minimum return loss or insertion loss. Fiber connectors are typically designed specifically for the type of fiber being used. There are around 100 different types of fiber optic connectors, ranging from simple simplex and duplex connections to connectors with 100 or more optical channels. Variants include circular and rectangular configurations optimized for blind mating, harsh environment, and commercial environment applications.
Despite this variety, fiber optic interconnects are generally designed with the same objective: to deliver low signal loss (attenuation) at a low cost with simplified termination. Fiber optic connections typically involve cutting the fiber, epoxying the fiber to the alignment ferrule of the connector, and polishing the end of the fiber. This process requires special tools and testing equipment to ensure a proper connection; although, the devices used to cut, align, and join fibers have been improved and simplified in recent years. In addition, some connectors are now available with pre- polished interfaces that allow users to simply push the optical fiber into the connector alignment ferrule for capture. Insertion losses may be higher, but as laser power increases and costs go down, field repair and installation are growing considerations.
Fiber optic connectors can be divided into three different types according to the pin-end surface of the connector: physical contact (PC), ultra-physical contact (UPC), and angled physical contact (APC). Depending on the transmission media, fiber optic connectors can also be divided into single-mode and multimode categories. Just a few configurations represent the majority of the market, particularly LC, SC, FC, ST, and MTP/MPO connectors. The most common fiber optic connectors are defined in the Telecommunications Industry Associations’ (TIA) Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standards (TIA-604-x/FOCIS-x) documentation. These are typically simplex or duplex connection systems and are commonly used for commercial telecom and datacom environments. Harsher environments require ARINC-specified connectors and MIL-DTL-29504 optical connections in circular or rectangular multichannel connectors.

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