As the availability of broadband optical sources that span the UV, visible, and mid- to long-wavelength IR regions continues to expand, supporting optical and fiber-optic components that transmit over a broad wavelength range are needed. Scientists at IRphotonics (St.-Laurent, QC, Canada) have now developed the first commercially available optical fiber that transmits over the full UV-through-IR range from 0.3 to 5.5 μm. The indium fluoride (InF3) fiber can be used for medical light-delivery and sensor applications, light delivery for thermal curing and materials processing, as the gain medium for fiber lasers and amplifiers, and for defense applications such as IR countermeasures.
Up until now, the best broad-wavelength-range fibers available were zirconium fluoride glass fibers that transmitted between 0.3 to 4.3 μm. The extended wavelength range for the IRphotonics InF3 fiber—which has typical attenuation values of 100 to 200 dB/km-is made possible because InF3 glasses have lower phonon energy than zirconium fluoride glasses, which increases transparency in the IR region. Work is still ongoing at IRphotonics to reduce fiber loss to 30 to 50 dB/km-the same level as zirconium fluoride glass fibers. Contact Ruben Burga at [email protected].