Browse Prior Art Database

Safe Optical Connector

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000045541D
Original Publication Date: 1983-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Feb-07
Document File: 3 page(s) / 62K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Crow, JD: AUTHOR

Abstract

Fiber-optic connectors are described which are safe to view when disconnected even when powered by a semiconductor laser. The connector ends are fabricated such that light is scattered, strongly defocused or totally internally reflected when the ends are separated. Upon connection of the two halves, the optically dispersive state is destroyed and light is coupled between the two halves.

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Safe Optical Connector

Fiber-optic connectors are described which are safe to view when disconnected even when powered by a semiconductor laser. The connector ends are fabricated such that light is scattered, strongly defocused or totally internally reflected when the ends are separated. Upon connection of the two halves, the optically dispersive state is destroyed and light is coupled between the two halves.

It is desirable to have a fiber-optic connector with the characteristic that it is safe when it is disconnected from its mate.

As laser-based data links may have as much as a few milliwatts of infrared (hence, invisible) power in the fiber-optic lightguide, there is the potential the connector user may damage his eyes by looking into the fiber output of the connector.

For simple point-to-point links, the connector can be made safe by an automatic shutdown of the link if light flow is interrupted. A transmitter/receiver could have this function built into it.

For more complicated networks, an automatic shutdown of the laser, when any connection is broken, may not be desired.

Connectors can be fabricated so that the optical output from each connector half is sufficiently dispersed so as to prevent a dangerous level of optical power at a reasonable viewing distance. For example, the output from a connector half may be scattered, strongly defocused, or totally internally reflected (TIR). Upon connection of the two connector parts, the optically dispersive state is altered or destroyed, so that a relatively highly collimated beam is coupled between the connector halves. This may be accomplished by using elastic materials to fabricate deformable optical elements in the connection. When the connector half is not mated, the elastic element on the end of the connector deflects or disperses the connector's output power. When the connector halves are mated, the elastic element is deformed, and serves as an index matching medium between connector halves (the elastic medium must be transparent). The basic idea is to alter the unmated connector s output...