November 12, 2012 at 09:26



A fully automated tool for connecting optical fibers in the field and at home will soon become a reality. A new European initiative in the field of optical telecommunications has kicked-off with the aim to develop a field installable optical fiber connector system that will greatly accelerate the deployment of extended fibre optic networks. This initiative is VECTOR (V ersatile E asy installable C onnector implementing new T echnologies for accelerated fiber O ptic network R oll-outs in Europe): a partnership between European telecom industry and universities. Together they will develop a system consisting of a highly performing connector concept and a fully automated installation tool that can be handled by low skill level operators

In VECTOR, B-PHOT is in charge of the design, the fabrication and the characterization of minuscule micro-optical elements that are required to ensure succesful and ultra-precise connections between optical fibres with the automated installation tool. To do so it will rely on its high-tech micro-photonic laboratories. B-PHOT is also responsible for developing and maintaining the website of the VECTOR project. Prof. Francis Berghmans is spokesperson and project leader for B-PHOT.

Here’s a bit of background. High speed internet requires access to optical fiber communication links. In order to distribute signals in such fiber optic networks, optical fibers need to be connected with each other, preferably in a reconfigurable manner. Installing connectors on such tiny glass optical fibers in the field currently requires highly specialized personnel and a multitude of dedicated tools. Dust and dirt make it almost impossible to achieve field connections with a quality level close to the one attainable in a factory or lab environment. VECTOR promises a connector system that will guarantee factory-like performance during field installation.

Stéphane Berghmans, project coordinator at TE Connectivity testifies: “Current connection technology requires extensive pre-engineering and highly specialized manpower for field deployment. This makes the installation slow, unreliable and ultimately raises the cost per connection to hardly manageable levels. With VECTOR we intend to make fiber optic connections as easy  as electrical wire connections and to bring affordable ultrafast internet connections to all European households”.

VECTOR exploits the latest developments in the field of heat-shrinkable materials, nano- materials, high-tech gels, micro-fabrication and micro-mechanical alignment systems to achieve optical connections with superior specifications. Partners from all over Europe have teamed up to achieve the project objectives. The project is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated by  TE Connectivity (through its Belgium entity, Tyco Electronics Raychem BVBA). VECTOR also relies on important contributions from DEMCON Advanced Mechatronics BV (The Netherlands), Celoplás – Plásticos para a Indústria SA (Portugal), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (B-PHOT, Belgium), Universiteit Gent (PBM, Belgium), Telecom Italia S.p.A. (Italy) and Telekom Deutschland GmbH (Germany).

Visit the VECTOR website at http://vectorfp7.eu.

Contact at VUB:

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Francis Berghmans

Brussels Photonics Team


Phone: +32 2 629 34 53 

Mobile: +32 477 50 69 18

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