New Broad Band Rare-Earth-Doped Glasses For Optical Fiber Communications

Period of Performance: 07/25/2001 - 01/25/2002

$65K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Kigre, Inc.
100 Marshland Road
Hilton Head, SC 29926
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of South Carolina
Dept of Chemical Engineering 301 South Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
Institution POC

Abstract

Kigre has an idea and evidence for a new family of broadband glasses that break all of Zachariasen's standard accepted rules for glass formation. This family of glasses is based upon the extensive use of multiple glass formers such as SiO2, B2O3, La2O3 and P2O5. By employing multiple glass formers in a laser glass, Kigre is able to expand the bandwidth without sacrificing cross section and gain. Normal glasses may be modified to expand bandwidth. However, in a normal glass this typically results in a lowering of the material's gain. Gain and bandwidth are critically important properties for matierials used in broadband Wavelength-Division-Multiplexing (WDM) and Dense-Wavelength-Division-Multiplexing (DWDM) optical communications systems.With bandwidth demands doubling every 2 years, the 35nm conventional "C"-band window of silica Erbium-Doped-Amplifiers (EDFAs) will soon be insufficient. Current broadband WDM and DWDM optical communications systems depend upon an archaic architecture of bulky electronics and multiple amplifier stages in combination with large, and expensive low gain bandwidth limited fiber materials such as silica, fluoride and tellurite glasses. Rapid implementation of mass quantities of future WDM and DWDM broadband optical communications systems is heavily dependent upon the availability of integrated optical components with low cost and broadband performance. The core technology that will allow for production of smaller integrated optical WDM and DWDM devices is the availability of high performance fiber and waveguide amplifier mateirials that exhibit both high gain and broad bandwidth. Materials with a wider bandwidth will be necessary to increase DWDM channel counts. New rare earth dopants and non-silica based fibers offer promising performance in this area. Market forecasts indicate that the demand foe communications will climb 100-fold to 200-fold by around 2003 or 2004. At currently announced investment rates, the telecommunications industry is only going to expand the global network by about 70-fold. Conclusion: bandwidth drought. DWDM EDFA gain block revenue grew 55 percent in 1999 and according to market forecasters is expected to reach $3.9 billion by 2003.