Polymer optical fibers (POF) can be used for a large
number of applications such as data transmission, sensors and light
transmission for signs and illumination. POF systems combine the
advantages of optical data communication with a less expensive solution
for short distance transmissions [1
Recent developments in technology and applications have improved the
image of POF, and they are finding a larger market with technology
companies worldwide. The three major applications are in
industrial-controls, the automotive field and the field of
home-entertainment, which will be one of the biggest in the near
First this paper will give a short overview over
commercial POF systems. Several companies offer commercial POF systems,
in many areas of applications, e.g. Systems like “Ethernet
over POF” or MOST, as an automotive application for
multi-media transmission via POF  . Figure 1 shows complete POF
system for transmission of digital audio signals, called TOSLINK from
Toshiba Technologies. This system contains a converter with a coaxial
input an an optical output, cabels, connectors, splitters etc. Toshiba
defines general-purpose optical modules as those having a data rate up
to 8 Mbps over distances up to 40 m.
multimedia POF system
application is for network connections. A CAT5 specified cabel has a
transmission length up to 100 m and a transmission ratio from
10/100/1000 Mbps. These are also achievable with POF systems, e.g. with
the mediaconverter from the company DieMount, shown in figure 2, a) as
duplex module and b) as simplex module.
In order to advance
the development within the range of POF systems, the university
currently plans spinning off a start-up company. The main scope of the
company is development of full functional POF systems with extendable
transmitting rates, using WDM technology   . It is planned to
use the system as an optical WDM teaching system for students,
technichians etc. complete in a package with software and electronic
manual. One big advantage is the ability to operate with visible light.
Figure 3 shows the WDM system by using three colours or three channels.
This will be the thirst step. For seperating the wavelengths (channels)
in this step, colour filters will be used. This system is able to
tranmitt anolog and digital signals simultaneously. The next step will
be the development of integrated optical devices. With help
of these devices, it should be possible to use more than three or four
channels for transmission.
Fig.3: POF WDM system
Another problem is the high attenuation of POF cable and losses at
couplers and connectors. Additionally by using colour filters there are
losses at the filter foils. Therefore a high power signal is needed to
be transmitted through the fiber. Currently there are several efforts
to achieve this. One is the development of high power LED’s,
e.g. from the company LUMILEDS with their so called Luxeon high power
LED’s. Another is to improve the coupling between the OEIC
(opto electronic integrated circuit) and the fiber. The company
DieMount is pursueing this idea.
3 The submount modules
The DieMount company developed a special submount module
for using in their mediaconverters. Figure 4 shows the transceiver
modules for the duplex and the simplex mediaconverter.
The advantages of the simplex transceiver module is that only one fiber
is needed. A transmission distance up to 80 m is possible @ 470 nm and
40 m @ 650 nm. The advantage of the duplex module is a higher
transmission distance up to 120 m @ 470 nm and 70 m @ 650 nm. The setup
of the submount modules, used for the transceiver modules, are shown in
Fig.5: Setup of the
Step 1: OEIC is placed by passive
adjustment in the microstructured submount
Step 2: coupler element will be pressed
on the submount
Step 3: now the fiber or connector can be
plugged in with the coupler element
These kind of submount modules can be used with LED’s (use
for the mediaconverter), VCSEL’s, laser diodes or used for
optical receiver elements. The coupling efficiency with the LED modules
increased from 11 % up to 58 %. Figure 6 shows such a module
which is soldered to the circuit board and a circuit board with several
submount elements. 
Fig.6: DieMount submount
The modules measured were setup with laser diodes type
“CHIP6505” from Roithner Lasertechnik. According to
the datasheet the maximum optical output power of this laser chips is 5
mW. There are two setups. One by the HHI (Fraunhofer Institut
für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich Hertz Institut) that is
assembled with wedge-wedge bonding using one aluminium wire. They
assembled four modules. The second was by the company u2t Photonics in
Berlin which are assembled with ball-wedge bonding using three gold
wires. They assembled six modules. Figure 7 shows both module setups.
To operate the laser module the submount elements were placed in the
Laser diode mount LDH TO3 from Profile Inc. and run with the OEM Laser
diode controller ITC 110 from Thorlabs.
Fig.8: Laser module
placed in the diode mount
4.1 Medianfield measurement
To measure the medianfield a special method was applied,
which was developed by the university itself. To control the
measurement a LabVIEW program was developed, which controled the
6-axis-motion system Physics Intrument F-604. For light detection the
SI PIN photodiode S7911 from Hamamatsu was used. For further
information about the measurement method please see .
Fig.9: Setup medianfield
measurement discribes the emitted spotsize of the laser module. The
measurement is relative, an absolute value can not be measured. Figures
10 and 11 shows two example medianfields, from a HHI module and from a
u2t module respectively.
Fig.10: Medianfield HHI
Fig.11: Medianfield u2t module
The figures show the
distribution of the emitted light. They illustrate that there two
maxima resulting from the light emitted from both sides of the laser
chip. This is an advantages since conventional applications can only
use the light emitted from one side of the laser chip. That’s
one advantages of this setup. Another is, that with the focusing effect
the coupling efficency can be improved. One can see that a standard POF
with a core diameter of 1 mm couples most of the emitted light. Normaly
the two spotsizes should have the same behavior. But the submount
module is only a prototype and so the surfaces are not handled
4.2 PI curve measurement
For the measurement of the PI curve the laser module was also placed in
the Profile diode mount and driven by the Thorlabs laser diode
controller. To measure the power a integrated sphere was used with a SI
photodiode (range: 400…1100 nm) and the Universal Optical
Power Meter 13PDC001 from Melle Griot. With this setup it is possible
to measure all of the emitted light.
setup PI curve
As seen above, the
maximum optical output power of the laser chips is 5 mW according to
the datasheet. With this setup it is possible to get much more power.
Figure 12 shows the PI curve of a HHI assembled module, figure 13 the
PI curve of a u2t assembled module.
Fig.13: PI curve HHI
Fig.14: PI curve u2t
It can be seen from
figures 13 and 14, that the maximum power of the HHI
assembled module is lower than the power of the u2t assembled module.
In figure 14 a PI curve after a long term measurement is shown. The
curve is more like the PI curve of a LED. An interesting phenomenon is
shown in figure 14. The test series one and two are run with a high
power. The test series three to five have a dimished output power.
These tests had a strange characteristic curve. Between a current of 30
mA and 35 mA there is a power breakthrough detectable. Test series six
was measured after a medianfield test, after the modules death. The
curve also looks like a LED curve.
Fig.15: PI curve u2t
4.3 Life time measurement
The life time is
currently the main problem with this kind of modules. The figures 16 to
18 below show long term tests of three modules.
Fig.16: Long term test
module HHI 02
Fig.17: Long term test
module u2t 02
Fig.18: Long term test
module HHI 01
Long term stability of
the tested modules are different, but in all cases it was not very
long. Module HHI 02 (figure 16) runs 40 hours with the full power and
then it died, it was not functional anymore. Modul u2t 02 ran for only
20 hours with full power and then it started to act like a LED. The
test of the modul HHI 01 runs longer, but with a constantly degreasing
output power. After the test it runs compared with the other modules
with a relative “high” power at approximate 6 dBm.
There are differences between the individual modules, but not realy
between the different construction methods. Last life time test runs
longer than one week, but the results not analyzed yet.
In total ten modules were tested. Figure 19 shows how the
modules operated before and after the tests. At the end of the
measurements, not one module functioned correctly, most of them had a
characteristics of a LED.
The measurements show
that these kinds of modules are a very good method to couple light into
a fiber. For future applications it is possible to get more power in an
optical trasnmission system, without an increasing current. High power
LED’s, like the Luxeon LED’s, are also able to
achieve this goal, but they require a much higher current. The tested
modules require the same current as normal lasers. The major advantage
is the high coupling efficiency.
The long term stability
is the only problem with these modules. It was shown, that both setups
have comparable results, within the medianfield and life time
measurements. There are only small differences in the maximum output
power. By using a different bonding method the problem with restricted
life time could be solved. It is very likely that this method of
bonding forms micro cracks in the laser chip and therefore reduces the
life time of the laser. It is necessery to use another method for
bonding, e.g. with a large ball. Some new modules were setup in Taiwan
with blue lasers and have good long term stability.
The German Federal
Ministry of Education and Research has supported this work with the
project “Fiber Lenses”. We want to thank D.Pech
from the HHI and R.Ziegler from u2t-Photonics for the packaging of the
electrical parts of the modules and many supporting ideas. Special
thanks also to Dr. Kragl, CEO of DieMount GmbH, for the supply of the
laser modules. Thanks also to Mr. Ziegler from u2t Photonics und Mr.
Pech from the HHI for assembling the laser modules.
„Opportunities in the Plastic Optical Fiber
Business“, FiberFest New England 2003
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 POF Application Center (POFAC)
Nürnberg. POF primer and glossary; available at http://www.pofac.de/
 K.Uehara, J.Mizusawa: „Evaluation of POF WDM
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 O.Ziemann: “Bi-Directional Transmission over
Plastic Optical Fibers”, POF’97, Kauai, 22.-25.
 Dr. Mizuzawa: “WDM Components for
POF”, 9. International POF Conference, Boston, 05.-08. Sept.
 DieMount GmbH Erfurt. Mediaconverter for Ethernet and
spezial lasermodules; available at http://www.diemount.com
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Planar Method to Obtain the Spot Size of Single Mode Optical
Components”, 2004 International Students and Young Scientists
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