Optomechanical design of a buckling cavity in a low-cost high-performance ferruleless field-installable single-mode fiber connector
E. Ebraert, J. Van Erps, S. Beri, J. Watté, H. Thienpont
To boost the deployment of fiber-to-the-home networks in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth, there is a strong need for single-mode fiber (SMF) connectors which combine low insertion loss with field installability. Shifting from ferrule-based to ferruleless connectors can reduce average insertion losses appreciably and minimize modal noise interference. We propose a ferruleless connector and adaptor in which physical contact between two inline fibers is ensured by at least one fiber being in a buckled state. To this end, we design a buckling cavity in which the SMF can buckle in a controlled way to ensure good optical performance as well as mechanical stability. This design is based on both mechanical and optical considerations. Finite element analysis suggests that mechanically a minimal buckling cavity length of 17 mm is required, while the height of the cavity should be chosen such that the buckled SMF is not mechanically confined to ensure buckling in a first-order mode. The optical bending loss in the buckled SMF is calculated using a fully vectorial mode solver, showing that a minimal buckling cavity length of 20 mm is necessary to keep the excess optical loss from bending below 0.1 dB. Both our optical and mechanical simulation results are experimentally verified.