Arrayed Fiberoptics has developed what it claims is the world's first non-contact multi-fibre push-on (NC-MPO) optical fibre connector. The patent-pending design could replace the traditional MPO connector in data centre cabling systems, joining ribbon fibres containing 4–24 fibres.
Traditional MPO connectors require all of the fibre end faces to be in close physical contact at the same time, the company explains. (An air gap would degrade the signal, due to multiple reflections). To ensure that all end faces are in close contact simultaneously, the fibre needs to protrude from the surrounding surface, and a large working pressure is required to mate the optical fibre connector.
This design creates numerous problems. For instance, manufacturing is more difficult because it is not easy to polish the fibre end faces to the required shape, and requires an expensive 3D interferometer for strict 3D profile detection. Mating repeatability is not good, partly because it is often not possible to guarantee simultaneous contact of all the fibres in the connector, and the pressure during mating can damage the fibre end.
The new non-contact version of the MPO fibre connector avoids these issues. The optical fibre end face is lower than the plastic ferrule surface, so that when NC-MPO connectors are mated, a small air gap remains between all the fibre end faces. Since the end face does not protrude, the polishing process is simplified, and test equipment costs are reduced. Anti-reflection coatings prevent multiple reflections, while the recessed fibre end faces are protected from damage when mated.
The new connector has a low insertion loss of 0.05dB typical and good insertion loss repeatability of ≤ 0.01dB; as well as high return loss: ≥ 70dB (singlemode version). Interchangeability – the ability to make a connection between any pair of connectors – Is guaranteed, the company asserts.
The non-contact design and low working pressure on the NC-MPO connector leads to a longer connector mating life, since the mating does not damage the surface of the device under test. Arrayed Fiberoptics rates the connector for 5,000 matings, 10 times more than a traditional MPO connector. Furthermore, the new NC-MPO is compatible and can mate with traditional MPO connectors.
Arrayed Fiberoptics has developed NC-MPO connectors for both singlemode and multimode fibres. Sample quantities are available now.