At the 44th European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) in Rome, Italy (Sept. 23-27), R&M presented a study on the innovative development of its new parallel optical connectors, dubbed the QXB series. The connectors rely on expanded beam technology developed together with Data Speed Control GmbH, a data center services provider based in Eisenberg, Germany. In the connectors, fused silica lenses are responsible for the transmission of light between the optical fibers.
"Expanded beam technology [will] have a whole range of benefits for the installation, operation and maintenance of passive FO infrastructures," explains Dr. Thomas Wellinger, R&M's market manager for data center and the study's lead author. "The lenses, made of high-purity fused silica, do away with the need for physical contact between the ends of the optical fibers. They form an array on the endface of the connector. One lens is assigned to every fiber. With multimode fibers, the beam can be increased sixteenfold, with singlemode fibers sevenfold. The lenses have an anti-reflection coating. With the development of the fused silica lenses, we are really pushing the physical limits of optical connectivity," adds Wellinger.
Per an R&M press release, "The QXB is like an MPO connector. It can be [constructed] with 12, 24 and 32 parallel fibers. In conventional FO connections, springs forcefully press the ends of the optical fibers together. This is the only way they can exchange the light signals with minimal attenuation loss. The contact surfaces have to be free of dust and aligned to the exact micrometer. All these requirements are a thing of the past with QXB. The cleaning of the contact surfaces would be superfluous as the light signals are transmitted without any physical contact. QXB connectors are inserted into the adapter without any force regardless of the number of fibers. This alleviates handling and takes the pressure off the housing. Visual inspections and the time-consuming search for transmission errors are also a thing of the past. The measured values of a connection remain stable once installed and tested, even if the connector has been unplugged and plugged back in again several times."
R&M's Wellinger continues, "MPO connectors always have to be completely removed if an individual fiber has to be cleaned or tested. All links are then offline. The performance of the MPO links can be negatively impacted from the plugging in and unplugging. You simply don't have that problem with the QXB, and that means networks work much more reliably."
R&M also cites the benefits of the QXB connector in terms of operating expenses. "Alongside installation, recurring cleaning, inspection and measurements play a major role for FO connectors -- they increase with the number of fibers thus inflating maintenance costs," concludes R&M's Wellinger. "With QXB, this cost factor does not even exist. The QXB will facilitate the work of infrastructure and SAN managers in hyperscale data centers and large corporate data centers considerably."
Visit https://www.rdm.com/sites/QXB for detailed information on R&M's QXB connector study.