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Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) Basics

What is Plastic Optical Fiber?

Core 96%, 1.0 mmPlastic Optical Fiber, (POF), typically uses PMMA (acrylic), a general-purpose resin as the core material, and fluorinated polymers for the cladding material.

In large-diameter fibers, 96 percent of the cross-section is the core that facilitates the transmission of light.

Although quartz fiber is widely used for infrastructures, POF has been called the "consumer" optical fiber. This is due to the fact that costs of POF, associated optical links, connectors and installation costs are low. It is being focused on the following fields in particular:

  • Digital home appliance interfaces
  • Home networks
  • Car networks

Types of Optical Fiber

The material used for POF is typically PMMA. However, there are also many other types of optical fiber. The individual characteristics of these fibers are applied to a variety of fields.

Below is a list of the typical optical fibers mass-produced today:

Quartz optical fiber

Multi-step structure fiber uses both of the principles above for transmission. As its name indicates, the structure uses multiple-step indices. Although the basic principle is the same as that of SI-POF, because the index of refraction changes in multiple steps, the focus of the light is shifted toward the center at the same time. This structure was recognized as a simple solution to increasing bandwidth, and in 1999, Mitsubishi Rayon developed and successfully tested Eska™ Miu, the first multi-step index fiber. This fiber is still under final development.

Consumer demand for POF dictates that this fiber remain at reasonable prices. The multi-step index structure can be mass produced much easier than GI-POF. Also, since it can easily be applied to varying bandwidths by changing the number of steps, it has the added benefit of simple conversion to larger capacities in the future.

Mitsubishi Rayon will recommend Eska™ Miu, rather than the higher transmission capacity GI structure Eska™ GIGA, as the backbone for home networks, not only because Eska™ Miu satisfies bandwidth requirements, but also because the economy and superior productivity of the multi-step structure are primary concerns for home networks. Suited for long-distance transmissions.

  • Single-mode fiber (SMF) Widely used for communications
  • Multi-mode fiber (MMF) Used for office networks
Glass optical fiber
  • Multi-component glass optical fiber -- Widely used along with POF for lighting
Plastic optical fiber
  • PMMA plastic optical fiber(POF) -- Consumer short-distance fiber for electronic appliances and motor vehicles
  • Polymer-clad fiber -- Fiber with a quartz core and plastic cladding
Note:Other types of plastic optical fiber have also been developed, including fluorinated and polycarbonate.

Published with permission from:
Optical Fiber Department
6-41, Konan 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8506, JAPAN
Phone: +81 3 5495 3060