How to Test AOC During Design and Production

With the increase of communication data rate, the maximum propagation distance on copper cable decreases. This trend promotes the use of optical fiber links in shorter distances. Optical fiber has established a good foundation in the telecommunications and data communication market, and is now ready to find applications in the consumer and industrial markets.

Consumer protocols such as USB and thunderbolt currently have a data rate of 10 Gbits / s. Therefore, the range of traditional copper interconnection has been limited to a few meters. Optics can eliminate distance constraints and use thinner and lighter cables for longer distance applications. These data rates are sufficient for most applications in consumer and industrial space because they range from a few meters to tens of meters. Active optical cable (AOC) can maintain electrical connection and is an ideal choice for higher speed and longer distance parts in consumer and industrial markets.

To succeed in the consumer or industrial market, optical cables need to be strong - optical and mechanical - and low cost. Various components of optical links - including optical fibers, cables, coupling optics and optoelectronic devices - can be designed to work together at the system level to meet these requirements. Testing and analysis at critical moments in the design process can further reduce costs by optimizing the design to achieve high output given the specified manufacturing tolerances. In addition, testing in the manufacturing process can capture any defective parts early to reduce material and assembly costs.

In Corning, we developed clearcurve vsdn fiber, and we conducted optical tests in-house. Optical systems (Optoelectronics, coupling optics and optical fibers) must at least be sufficient to meet the electrical standards imposed by consumer specifications. We test optical power, mode and noise and correlate these results with electrical signal tests. Therefore, although the whole system (such as USB and thunderbolt) only recognizes electrical signals, we can apply the minimum standard of power and noise on the optical path. Optical parameters are also tested throughout the manufacturing and production process. Critical testing can solve any problem on the production line while minimizing the overall cost.

Although the data transmission performance of optical fiber links is still important in consumer and industrial applications, market size, robustness and low prerequisite costs require some trade-offs during design. Testing during manufacturing and system design further ensures that each element of the design meets the specifications, although manufacturing is variable, thereby reducing waste and cost.

Optical fiber

In order to be widely accepted in the consumer market, optical solutions must be small, robust and low-cost, while still maintaining the minimum optical power throughput or maximum optical loss (i.e. "optical link budget"). By reducing the overall fiber diameter, the mechanical strength of the fiber can be improved because it reduces the stress caused by bending. The fiber diameter is composed of inner core and outer layer. Reducing the fiber diameter can effectively improve the mechanical strength without having a strong impact on the luminous flux.

Similarly, the core diameter can be reduced by increasing the limitation of the optical signal to slightly improve the optical bending loss, but under the condition of reducing the serious loss of optical coupling ease. As an extreme example, it is usually 50 μ Compared with M-core MMF (multimode fiber), it usually has 8 μ M-core SMF (single-mode fiber) will require 10 times or better alignment accuracy to maintain the same optical coupling. SMF can achieve almost zero optical loss over a very long distance, while MMF is limited to hundreds of meters for the same data rate. Therefore, for a given data rate in optical fiber design, there is an obvious trade-off between optical propagation distance and ease of optical coupling. Adjusting the fiber design helps to meet the application requirements of cost, bending sensitivity, bandwidth and distance.

Because the distance covered by consumer and industrial applications is less than a few hundred meters, MMF has better optical coupling and shorter distance propagation distance - it is a better choice. In order to improve the bending performance and optical coupling of these applications, Corning has developed clearcurve vsdn fiber. The diameter of this fiber ranges from a typical 125 μ M reduced to 100 μ m. Mechanically provide bending radii as low as 1.5 mm.

In order to achieve low optical bending loss with this new radius, we developed a method with unusual refractive index distribution. The clearcurve series, including vsdn, has low refractive index "grooves" around the magnetic core, which reduces optical bending sensitivity. Together, these two attributes allow a bending radius of 1.5 mm.

In order to improve the optical coupling performance, the core diameter is increased from typical 50 microns of standard MMF to 80 microns of vsdn. Although this increase results in a slight reduction in the maximum propagation distance, it significantly improves the allowable misalignment tolerance, thereby increasing the manufacturing cost. (Figure 1 compares the properties of vsdn fiber with those of standard MMF).

Figure 1. Comparing clearcurve vsdn fiber at Corning with standard 50 μ M between multimode fibers.

With the increase of core diameter and refractive index contrast of clearcurve vsdn fiber, the loss at the bend is reduced to 1 dB and the radius is 1.5 mm. Clearcurve vsdn fiber can achieve error free transmission of up to 10 Gbits / s within 100 meters. Figure 2 shows the different fiber profiles and their corresponding loss as a function of bending diameter.

Figure 2. Exponential curve (a) (b) designed for low bending loss.

Figure 3 compares the optical eye diagram of 10 Gbits / s after transmission through 3 m and 100 m vsdn fiber, indicating that the signal attenuation caused by minimum dispersion can be achieved.

Figure 3. The optical signal of 10 Gbit / s eye pattern propagated to 3 meters (left) and 100 meters (right) has little degradation.

Cable

Cables provide another opportunity to improve robustness. By designing optical fibers for strong optical transmission and mechanical flexibility, the design of protective cables allows bending as small as 1.5 mm radius. The cable cross section (Figure 4) shows the slotted internal design to protect the optical fiber while keeping the cable thin and flexible to prevent accidental extrusion.

The groove allows the fiber to move freely, thereby minimizing bending. As a result, the cable can bend itself back 180 degrees with a nominal zero bending radius, while maintaining the fiber curvature radius greater than 1.5mm to prevent damage or significant optical loss. Therefore, the cable can be clamped without damaging or losing performance. During the manufacturing process, optical fibers and cables are occasionally checked to ensure that they comply with the design specifications.

Figure 4. The slotted design of vsdn cable (cross section, upper left corner) allows the optical fiber to move freely, so that the cable can knot (right) or even shrink (lower left).

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