Novel compact lensed ferrule for connectors

Louise Smyth

The harsh environment fibre optic components (HEFO) market is dominated by volumes of commercial and industrial products, such as optical connectors for Industry 4.0. However, in terms of turnover, the military-aerospace sector dominates. In fact, this sector typically results in higher profitability and consists of products requiring a high rate of customisation. As a consequence, it is a relatively static market. The incumbents of the connector industry have often tried to adapt their products, originally destined for the commercial market, into a harsh environment version. This has been in attempt to access a more profitable market with only limited investments. Diamond, however, has been working in both the commercial and the harsh environment sectors for many years and has created a modular product that makes harsh environment compatible with standard fibre optic connection solutions. For this purpose, a modular and compact ferrule was developed, designed to completely replace the typical 2.5mm ceramic physical contact (PC) ferrules of standard body, single mode connectors (E-2000, SC, FC, etc.).

Furthermore, the alignment of a lens with an optical single mode fibre requires tolerances in the order of microns to guarantee acceptable insertion losses. Diamond uses highly integrated technologies, along with a full quality check and vertical control of the production line, to produce ultra-tight tolerances and a passive lens-ferrule alignment. A spherical lens and a low-tolerance ceramic ferrule are positioned in an ultra-precise sleeve without requiring further adjustments. The result is a compact lensed-ferrule, which can be inserted in all of the standard bodies of the most widely used fibre optic connectors. The lensed-ferrule has been dedicated to single mode fibres and guarantees insertion losses less than 1 dB, with a nominal value of 0.6 dB.

With this product, Diamond moves the concept of ferrule to the concept of collimator for optical connections. Fibre optic spectrometers, optical sensors or obstacle detectors such as lidars are easily implemented and lead to new solutions in the automotive sector.

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