OPTICAL FIBER COUPLING LOSS
Ideally, optical signals coupled between fiber optic components are transmitted with no loss of light. However, there is always some type of imperfection present at fiber optic connections that causes some loss of light. It is the amount of optical power lost at fiber optic connections that is a concern of system designers.
The design of fiber optic systems depends on how much light is launched into an optical fiber from an optical source and how much light is coupled between fiber optic components, such as from one fiber to another. The amount of power launched from a source into a fiber depends on the optical properties of both the source and the fiber. The amount of optical power launched into an optical fiber depends on the radiance of the optical source. An optical source's radiance, or brightness, is a measure of its optical power launching capability. Radiance is the amount of optical power emitted in a specific direction per unit time by a unit area of emitting surface. For most types of optical sources, only a fraction of the power emitted by the source is launched into the optical fiber.
The loss in optical power through a connection is defined similarly to that of signal attenuation through a fiber. Optical loss is also a log relationship. The loss in optical power through a connection is defined as:
For example, Po is the power emitted from the source fiber in a fiber-to-fiber connection. Pi is the power accepted by the connected fiber. In any fiber optic connection, P o and Pi are the optical power levels measured before and after the joint, respectively.
Fiber-to-fiber connection loss is affected by intrinsic and extrinsic coupling losses. Intrinsic coupling losses are caused by inherent fiber characteristics. Extrinsic coupling losses are caused by jointing techniques. Fiber-to-fiber connection loss is increased by the following sources of intrinsic and extrinsic coupling loss:
Intrinsic coupling losses are limited by reducing fiber mismatches between the connected fibers. This is done by procuring only fibers that meet stringent geometrical and optical specifications. Extrinsic coupling losses are limited by following proper connection procedures.
Some fiber optic components are modular devices that are designed to reduce coupling losses between components. Modular components can be easily inserted or removed from any system. For example, fiber optic transmitters and receivers are modular components. Fiber optic transmitters and receivers are devices that are generally manufactured with fiber pigtails or fiber optic connectors as shown in figure 4-1. A fiber pigtail is a short length of optical fiber (usually 1 meter or less) permanently fixed to the optical source or detector. Manufacturers supply transmitters and receivers with pigtails and connectors because fiber coupling to sources and detectors must be completed during fabrication. Reduced coupling loss results when source-to-fiber and fiber-to-detector coupling is done in a controlled manufacturing environment. Since optical sources and detectors are pigtailed or connectorized, launching optical power is reduced to coupling light from one fiber to another. In fact, most fiber optic connections can be considered fiber-to-fiber.
Figure 4-1. - Pigtailed and connectorized fiber optic devices.
Q.3 Define the loss in optical power through a connection.