I spent a very memorable semester at TONA as a part of my Erasmus Mundus MSc in Photonics course.
Before a widespread and global adoption of Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) networks can become beneficial, the development of a new breed of cost-effective connectivity solutions is necessary. This includes the introduction of key network components such as connectors, fiber distribution hubs, splitters and low-cost monitoring systems. One of the most important parameters that restricts the further integration of fiber optics in these networks is the fiber positioning accuracy. Indeed, contrary to electronic copper cables, optical single-mode fibers (SMFs) are very sensitive to spatial misalignments and deviations in the micrometer range can result in unacceptably high coupling losses. We have recently shown that we are able to fabricate high-efficiency and high-density fiber connector components for interconnecting 2D arrays of fibers . We now want to further improve the performance and reliability of these components to facilitate the installation in the field.
Fibre connections in a street cabinet © F. Maréchal for France Télécom Orange
In this work, that will be performed in the framework of an industrial project in collaboration with TE Connectivity (formerly Tyco Electronics), the aim is to develop self-centering micro-hole structures that can align arrays of optical fibers and can accommodate for possible fiber diameter variations to be expected when alignment of fibers has to be accomplished in a field situation. This will be achieved by deflectable/compressible cantilever structures, providing a self centering functionality for the fiber.
Starting from the first-generation which were prototyped, you will extensively characterize and evaluate their optical performance via demonstrator set-ups, with the aim of validating the simulation results of the mechanical properties of the cantilever structures. This will allow you to improve its characteristics and prototype improved versions. To this end, you will make use of our in-house technology of deep proton writing . For the accurate monitoring of the fiber insertion process, a dedicated interferometer  will be further developed. A comparison of the expected performance will be made by Monte Carlo simulations of the performance of standard ferrule connector technology and the new self centering technology.
In conclusion, this master thesis subject encompasses the whole “food-chain” for optical components from design over prototyping to the experimental characterization in a state-of-the-art demonstrator.
Link to webpage or article related to the subject :
 J. Van Erps, B. Volckaerts, H. Van Amerongen, P. Vynck, R. Krajewski, C. Debaes, J. Watté, A. Hermanne, H. Thienpont, “High-precision 2D SM fiber connectors fabricated through deep proton writing”, IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett., Vol 18, pp. 1164-1166, 2006.
 J. Van Erps, M. Vervaeke, C. Debaes, H. Ottevaere, A. Hermanne, H. Thienpont, “Deep Proton Writing: a rapid prototyping tool for polymer micro-optical and micro-mechanical components,” in Rapid Prototyping Technology - Principles and Functional Requirements, InTech, ISBN 978-953-307-970-7, pp. 339-362, 2011.
 J. Van Erps, A. Pakula, S. Tomczewski, L. Salbut, M. Vervaeke, H. Thienpont, “In Situ Interferometric Monitoring of Fiber Insertion in Fiber Connector Components,” IEEE Photonics Technology Letters, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 60-62, 2010.
|Jurgen Van Erps||Promotor|