Novel hollow-core optical fiber to enable high-power military sensors

August 1, 2013
Hollow-core fiber assembly. Credit: OFS

The intensity of light that propagates through glass optical fiber is fundamentally limited by the glass itself. A novel fiber design using a hollow, air-filled core removes this limitation and dramatically improves performance by forcing light to travel through channels of air, instead of the glass around it. DARPA's unique spider-web-like, hollow-core fiber, design is the first to demonstrate single-spatial-mode, low-loss and polarization control—key properties needed for advanced military applications such as high-precision fiber optic gyroscopes for inertial navigation.

Although hollow-core fiber has been available from overseas suppliers for years, DARPA's ongoing Compact Ultra-Stable Gyro for Absolute Reference (COUGAR) program has brought design and production capacity inside the United States and developed it to a level that exceeds the state of the art.

A team of DARPA-funded researchers led by Honeywell International Inc. developed the technology. The hollow-core fiber is the first to include three critical performance-enabling properties:

  • Single-spatial-mode: light can take only a single path, enabling higher bandwidth over longer distances;
  • Low-loss: light maintains intensity over longer distances;
  • Polarization control: the orientation of the is fixed in the fiber, which is necessary for applications such as sensing, interferometry and secure communications.

Explore further: Transporting spatially entangled photons through an optical fiber

Related Stories

Researchers create novel optical fibers

April 17, 2013

( —Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have found a new mechanism to transmit light through optical fibers. Their discovery marks the first practical application of a Nobel-Prize-winning ...

Helicopter-light-beams: A new tool for quantum optics

May 27, 2013

A light wave oscillates perpendicular to its propagation direction – that is what students learn in school. However, scientists of the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) now perform atom-physics experiments with ...

Recommended for you

Xbox gaming technology may improve X-ray precision

December 1, 2015

With the aim of producing high-quality X-rays with minimal radiation exposure, particularly in children, researchers have developed a new approach to imaging patients. Surprisingly, the new technology isn't a high-tech, high-dollar ...

Making 3-D imaging 1,000 times better

December 1, 2015

MIT researchers have shown that by exploiting the polarization of light—the physical phenomenon behind polarized sunglasses and most 3-D movie systems—they can increase the resolution of conventional 3-D imaging devices ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.