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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Fiber Optic Connector", for Approval

August 7, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Miller, Darrin Max (Hickory, NC), filed on February 5, 2013, was made available online on July 24, 2014.

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Aspects of the present disclosure relate generally to fiber optic connectors, ferrules that may be used with fiber optic connectors, and methods of manufacturing ferrules and connectors.

"Ferrules in use today are often made of zirconia because zirconia ferrules tend to be particularly durable and the manufacturers can produce zirconia ferrules with high-precision dimensional tolerances at very low cost. The color of zirconia ferrules is generally a distinct glossy white and their overall appearance is generally the same, regardless of the manufacturer.

"Mechanical polishing is typically used when manufacturing fiber optic connectors with ferrules and associated optical fibers because mechanical polishing is an industry-proven way to achieve a fiber and ferrule geometry that is compliant with current international standard specifications, such as having a fiber height of .+-.100 nm from the ferrule end face, depending on connector type and radius of curvature and apex offset. Mechanical polishing is also capable of removing excess epoxy on the end face.

"One problem with zirconia ferrules is that the zirconia may not survive direct contact with high quantities of laser power. Contact with the laser beam may cause micro-cracking of the zirconia. Therefore it is generally difficult to laser process a short glass fiber protruding from the zirconia ferrule. As such, conventional laser-cut fibers have a significant length of the fibers protruding from the end face of a zirconia ferrule to prevent damage to the zirconia. This length is typically greater than 50 .mu.m and since the industry standard for fiber protrusion is +/-100 nm, additional processing is typically needed.

"A need exists for a ferrule system that facilitates laser processing of optical fibers at a close distance to the ferrule, such as a distance less than 50 .mu.m from the end face of the ferrule."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "Inventive and innovative technology disclosed herein includes a fiber optic connector having a ferrule configured to facilitate a manufacturing process to achieve industry-standard specifications for the geometry of the end face of the ferrule on a terminated optical cable assembly. The ferrule includes two or more pieces.

"In some embodiments, an outer piece of the ferrule includes zirconia to provide strength and durability for the ferrule, while maintaining the overall appearance of a conventional ferrule. An inner piece of the ferrule includes a material, such as fused silica, that melts and/or ablates in a manner similar to silica-based optical fibers. The ferrule facilitates laser-forming and processing of the optical fiber in one process step, and the inner piece may subsequently be inserted into and secured within the outer piece of the ferrule.

"One embodiment relates to a method of manufacturing a fiber optic connector. The method includes a step of stripping an optical fiber of one or more polymeric coatings to expose a glass cladding of the optical fiber. The method includes another step of inserting the optical fiber into an inner piece of a ferrule, where the inner piece includes silica. Further, the method includes steps of processing the optical fiber in the inner piece of the ferrule using a laser and, subsequent to the processing step, inserting the inner piece of the ferrule into an outer piece of the ferrule. The outer piece includes a ceramic material that is more durable than the inner piece.

"Another embodiment relates to a ferrule for a fiber optic connector, which includes an inner piece including a first material and an outer piece including a second material. The outer piece surrounds the inner piece, and the inner piece extends beyond an end of the outer piece. Yet another embodiments relates to a fiber optic connector including such a ferrule, where the inner piece extends beyond the end of the outer piece by a distance of at least 10 micrometers.

"Additional features and advantages are set forth in the Detailed Description that follows, and in part will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the description or recognized by practicing the embodiments as described in the written description and claims hereof, as well as the appended drawings. It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following Detailed Description are merely exemplary, and are intended to provide an overview or framework to understand the nature and character of the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

"The accompanying Figures are included to provide a further understanding, and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings illustrate one or more embodiments, and together with the Detailed Description serve to explain principles and operations of the various embodiments. As such, the disclosure will become more fully understood from the following Detailed Description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying Figures, in which:

"FIG. 1 is a side sectional view of an inner piece of a ferrule according to an exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 2 is a side sectional view of an outer piece configured to support the inner piece of FIG. 1 according to an exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 3 is a side sectional view of fiber optic connector according to an exemplary embodiment.

"FIGS. 4-5 are side schematic views of the inner piece of FIG. 1 with an optical fiber therein, depicting two different depth of focus and spot-size setups for laser processing the optical fiber according to an exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a manufacturing assembly including a galvanometer to scan a focused laser beam for processing of the optical fiber according to an exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 7 is a diagram of an energy distribution of a laser beam shown from a diffractive optical element.

"FIG. 8 is a side sectional view of a ferrule for a fiber optic connector according to another exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 9 is a side sectional view of the ferrule of FIG. 8 after the ferrule has been further processed according to an exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 10 is a side sectional view of a ferrule for a fiber optic connector according to yet another exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 11 is a side sectional view of a ferrule for a fiber optic connector according to another exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 12 is a side sectional view of the ferrule of FIG. 9 with a stub of an optical fiber extending therefrom according to another exemplary embodiment.

"FIG. 13 is a side sectional view of a multi-fiber ferrule according to an exemplary embodiment."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Miller, Darrin Max. Fiber Optic Connector. Filed February 5, 2013 and posted July 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=2851&p=58&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140717.PD.&OS=PD/20140717&RS=PD/20140717

Keywords for this news article include: Patents.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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