Fiber Optics Pointed Toward Bright Future

Aug. 6, 2001
Fiber optics held an important place in the Aug. 7-11 symposium of the Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers in Los Angeles. Four companies showed fused-fiber image conduits: Mosaic Fabrications Inc. and American Optical Co., both of...

Fiber optics held an important place in the Aug. 7-11 symposium of the Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers in Los Angeles. Four companies showed fused-fiber image conduits: Mosaic Fabrications Inc. and American Optical Co., both of Southbridge, Mass.; Chicago Aerial Industries Inc., Barrington, Ill.; and Bausch & Lomb, Rochester, N.Y. American Optical also exhibited flexible cable.

J.W. Hicks, president of Mosaic Fabrications Inc., said the principal problems in fiber optics are the production of flexible cable without misalignment and breakage of fibers. Techniques have been developed for fabricating cables with fibers well aligned, but the breakage problem has not been solved. When a cable bends, the fibers, which are individually very strong, get entangled and tend to snap.

Mosaic Fabrications showed a 3-in. fiber-optic disk a quarter of an inch thick, composed of fibers, 3 microns in diameter. The disk contained 625 million fibers across its diameter. Other exhibits included image tube face plates for high-speed electrostatic printing. Since an image appears directly on the surface of a fiber-optic device, a film can be run directly in contact with the readout. No lens system is necessary.

Electrical mosaics also shown consist of a glass matrix with metal wires running from one face to another. Electrical mosaics have been sold for more than a year by Corning Glass Co. and used in electrostatic printers.

As this article suggests, the early developments in fiber optics were mainly in image-conduit applications, rather than in optical-frequency transmission media. It wasn't until electro-optical semiconductor devices appeared in quantity that fiber optics began to be considered for carrying signals.

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