Furukawa debuts wide area plasma fiber splicer

February 22, 2008 -- At OFC 2008, Furukawa America will introduce its S184 Wide Area Plasma FITEL splicer, which incorporates proprietary three-phase plasma technology developed jointly with 3SAE Technologies.

February 22, 2008 -- At OFC/NFOEC 2008, Furukawa America Inc. will introduce its S184 Wide Area Plasma FITEL splicer, which the company says features proprietary three-phase plasma technology for high strength, high yield, large diameter and specialty fiber splicing up to 1 mm.

The company maintains that, in the world of fiber optic splicing, there has traditionally been a choice of two technologies: electric arc fusion or filament splicing. Jointly developed by The Furukawa Electric Company Ltd. of Japan and 3SAE Technologies Inc., Furakawa claims that the FITEL S184 model is the first splicer to use three-phase plasma technology utilizing three electrodes. (For background, a two-electrode system has served the bulk of fusion splicing applications for nearly 30 years. A filament system emerged about 17 years ago for highly temperature-controlled, specialty-fiber splicing.)

According to Furukawa, three-phase plasma technology places a third electrode in a "T" configuration. This additional electrode, combined with an advanced arc discharging unit for independent modulation, produces a "ring of fire" arc zone. The useable region of the "wide-area plasma field" is up to 100 times larger than a two-electrode system, and provides consistent heating throughout the entire zone.

The companies contend that, for the market, this technology allows the ability to: splice larger diameter fiber with extremely low insertion loss; use a thermally expanded core process for dissimilar MFD fibers; and consistently achieve an extremely stable, reliable, and controllable heat zone.

The S184 splicer accommodates small fibers such as 80-micron and large fibers up to 1-mm in diameter. The improved stability and extended dynamic range of the three-phase plasma field also allows for a thermally expanded core process. This core diffusion method can be used pre- or post-splice to achieve significantly lower optical loss for fibers with mismatched mode field diameters (MFD), according to the companies.

The companies say that three-phase plasma technology also produces temperatures stable enough to perform a "flame polish" post splice to increase the tensile strength of the splice. The flame polish removes imperfections in the silica created during the splice itself.

"This is the first major technology shift we've seen in the industry in 17 years," attests Jason Greene, division manager for Furukawa America. "We're pleased to bring this new level of performance to the splicing industry with the FITEL S184."

Furukawa teamed with 3SAE to develop the S184 splicer, as 3SAE specializes in custom splicing solutions for the OEM photonics industry. 3SAE has three patents pending for the three-phase plasma technology module used within the FITEL S184 splicer.

"The physics are different," explains Don Grasso, chief executive officer of 3SAE. "With three-phase plasma splicing, radiation and convection are the primary means of heat transfer to the fiber, as opposed to the non-linear thermal conduction achieved with a standard two-electrode system."

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