SBIR Phase I: Draw Tower Control Software for Specialty Optical Fibers

Period of Performance: 12/01/2016 - 11/30/2017

$158K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Low Re Tech LLC
3401 Market St Suite 200
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to eliminate the need for costly trial and error in the fabrication of specialty optical fibers. Specialty fibers are rapidly finding applications in a diverse array of fields, resulting in a rapidly growing market for this technology. However, a major bottleneck in their development is the difficulty of fabricating them, since the configuration of the fiber may differ from the preform from which it is drawn. The new technology will provide value in significantly reducing costs in materials and labor associated with existing trial and error procedures by providing a tool capable of predicting in advance the preform configuration and parameters necessary to draw a desired fiber. Besides enhancing scientific understanding of the physics of fiber drawing, the development of this tool would allow more rapid exploration of the possibilities offered by specialty optical fibers. The proposed project would lay the mathematical groundwork necessary to develop prediction software for specialty optical fibers. By developing a mathematical model of the fluid dynamics of fiber drawing that incorporates both air channels and inclusions of viscous fluid, it would be applicable to a wide range of specialty optical fibers being developed today, including multicore fibers. The proposed project would additionally attempt to overcome previous efforts' restrictions on the slenderness of the draw-down region. Because the model will be specialized to the geometry of fiber drawing, an implementation will run fast enough for fabricators to explore a large space of possible parameters, allowing them to realize their fiber designs precisely. The model will be tested against numerical simulations of viscous threads and against experimental data. A successful outcome of the proposed project will be the development of methods that are accurate, fast enough for optimization work, and require only parameters that can be easily measured in draw towers. Implementing these methods in software will provide a crucial tool for fabricators in this rapidly expanding market.