Sie sind auf Seite 1von 44


Sflgman Degrada'[ion flm Optical Fibers

In Chapter 2 we showed the

structure of optical fibers and examined the concepts of how light propagates

waveguide. Here, we shall continue the discussion of opt.A dU"rt

along a cylindrical dielectric optiqal

by answering two very important questions:

1. What are the loss or signal

attenuation mechanisms in a fiber?

2' Why and to what degree do optical signals get distorted as they propagate along a fiber?

Signal attenuation (also known as fiber loss or signal /oss) is one of the most

important properties of

an optical fiber, because it largely de0ermines the maximum unamplified or repeaterlejs separation

between a fransmitter and a receiver. Since amplifiers and repeaters are expensivi to fabricate, install,

and maintain, the degree of attenuation in a fiber has large influence on system cost. Of

issignal distortion. The distortion mechanisms in a fiber cause optical signal pulses to

equal importance broaden as they

travel along a fiber. If these pulses travel sufficiently far, they will eventually overlap with

pulses, thereby creating errors in the receiver output. The signal distortion mechanisms thus limit thi

information-carrying capacity of a fiber.




Attenuation of a light signal as it propagates along a fiber is an important consideration in the design of

an optical communication system, since it plays a major role in determining the maximum transmission

distance between a hansmitter and a receiver or an in-line aniplifier. The bisic attenuation mechanisms in a fiber are absorption, scattering, and radiative losses of the optical energy.l-s Absorption is related to

the fiber material, whereas scaffering is associated both with the fiber material and with structural

imperfections in the optical waveguide. Attenuation owing to radiative effects originates from

perturbations Ooth microscopic and macroscopic) of the fiber geomety.






This section frst discusses the units in whicli fiber losses are *u**"d and then presents the physical

phenomena giving rise to attenuation.



3.1.1 Attenuation Units

As light


travels along a fiber, its power decreases exponentially with distance. If P(0) is the optical

in a fiber at the origin (at z= 0), then the power Pk) at a distance e further down the fiber is


P(z) = P(Q)e-atz




ir- is the fiber attenuation,cofficient given in units of, forexample, km-l. Notethatihe units for 2zaocan

also be designated by nepers (see Appendix D). For simpiicity in calculating optical signal attenuation in a fiber, the common procedure is to express

the attenuation coefficient in vntts of dccibels per kilomerer denoted by dB/km. Designating this parameter by a, we have

a(dBrkm) = 19 ros j;i3] =4.343a, {kmr)



it is a function of the wavelength.

variables, as is shown in the following sections, and

Examole 3.1 ln ideal fiber would have no loss so

that Pou, =.Pin. This corresponds to a O-dB/km attenuation,

which, in practice, is impossible. Au actual low-lqss fiber

may have a 3-dB/km average loss at 9(X) nm, for example.

This means that the optical sigoal power would decrease by 50 percent over a l-km length and would decrease by 75 percent (a 6-dB loss) over a length, since loss contributions expressed in decibels are additive.

Example S2

As sec. 1.3 describes optical powers

are commonly expressed in units of dBm, which is the

deribel power level referred to.t mW Consitler a 3Gkm long optical fiber that has an atttinuation of 0.4 dp/km at

1310 nm. Suppose we.want to find the,optical ouput power

Pou if 200 pW of optical power is launched into th€ fibel

We frst express the inprrt power in dBm units:

P,- (dBm) = ,o ,o*



4" (*)'l

lmIM J



wl = _r.oor*

ro ros Izoo,



lxlo-'w I

From Eq. (3.1c) we then have that the outPut power

level (in dBm) at z = 30 km is


1lmwl -


Pou, (dBm) = l0 log |

= ro los


- "

= -7.0 dBm - (0.4 dB/km) (30 km) = _19.0 dBm

In unit of watts, the outtrxtt power is

P(30 krn) = lQ-1e0/10 (1 m\{) = 12.6. x t0'3 mW

= 12.6 pW

3.1.2 Absorption

Absorption is caused by three different mechanisms:

1. Absorption by atomic defects in the glass composition.

2. Exrinsic absorption by impurity atoms in the glass material.

3. Intrinsic absorption by the basic constituent atoms of the fiber material.

Atomic defects are imperfections in the atomic structure of the fiber material- fuamples are missing molecules, high-density clusters of atom groups, or oxygen defects in the glass structure. Usually,

absorption losses arising fmm these defects are negligible compared with intrinsic



effects. However,'they can be silnificant if the fiber is exposed to ionizing radiation, as might occur in a nuclear reactor environment, in medical radiation tlrerapies, in space missions that pass through the

earth's Van Allen belts, or in accelerator instrumentation.Ge ln such applications, high radiation doses may be accumulated over several years.

Radiation damages a material by changing its internal structure. The damage effects depend on the energy of the ionizing pafticles or rays (e,g., electrons, neutrons, or gamma rays), the radiation flux

(dose rate), and the fluence (pardcles per square centimeter). The total dose a material receives is expressed

in units of radlSi), which is a'ineasure of radiation absorbed in bulk silicon. This unit is defined as




,, 1 rad(Si) = 1@ er8/8 = 0'01 ykg

The basic'response of a fiber to ionizing radiation is an increase in attenuation owing to the creation

of atomic defects, or attenuation centers, that absorb optical energy. The higher the radiation level, the larger the attenuation, as Fig. 3.1a illustrates. However, the attenuation centers will relax or anneal out

with time, as shown in Fig. 3.1&.

E d'









fig. 3.1

4000 6000

Dose [rad (Si)]

' ({)




too tor

to2 to3


Time after iradiation (s)



Etfects oJ tantztttg'radiatian on

sbadg i,"mdiat{on

opfir;alfi}rr alterulallon- {cd loss rrcreasts dvting

rad" (SrO;. (b) SubseWent

reeoery os a


atotal dose oJ lff

fi.nrtion oJ fine

o$* radfntion has stopped. Mdtfied. urlh perznission Jrom West

et aL,7 @ 1994, IEEE.)

The dominant absorption factor in silica fibers is the presence of minute quantities of impurities in

the fiber material. These impurities include OH- (water) ions that are dissolved in the glass and transition

metal ions such as iron, copper,

chromium, and vanadium. Transition metal impurity levels were around

1 part per million (ppm) in glass fibers made in the 1970s, which resulted in losses langing from I to 4 aBftm, as Table 3.1 shows. Impurity absorption losses occur either because of electron transitions

between the energy levels within these ions or because of charge transitions betrveen ions. The absorption peaks of the variols transition metal impqrities tend to be broad, and several pea\s may overlap, which

further broadens the absorption in a specific region. a fiber preform (see Sec. 2.9) have ieduced ttre

Modern vapor-phase fiber techniques for producing transition-metal impurity levels by several orders of

magnitude. Such low impurity levels allow the fabrication of low-loss fibers.

ih" p*r"n e of OH ion impgrities

used in the hydrolysis

reaction of

concentrations of less

in a fiber preform results mainly from the oxyhydrogen flame

the SiCla, GeCl+, ord POCI3 starting materials- Water impurity

than a few parts per billion (ppb) are required if the attenuation is to be less than

20 dB/km. The high levels,of OH ions in early fibers resulted in large absorption peals at 725,954,

1240,-and 1380 nm. Regions of low attention lie between these absorption peaks. The peaks and valleyi in the attenuation curves resulted in the designation of the various transmission

windois shown in Fi;. 3.2. By reducing


the residual OH content of fibers to below



nm (in the

availabli single-mode

fibeis have nominal attenuations of 0.4 dB/km at l3l0


the absorption peak

andiess than 0.25 db/km at 1550 nm (in the C-band). Further elimination of water ions diminishes

data transmission, as indicated by

for Fig. 3.2. Qptical fibers that can be used in the E-band are known by names such /ow-

around 1440 nm and thus opens up the E-ban9

the dashed line in

water-peak or full-spectrurn fibers.


-u I



E t.o





Wavelenglh (om)



fU. S.2 Opttr5rtfrtrl. afra.uangnas

a6ng6i"t 1SIO nm


ua&.res of 0.5

andO.3 1550 nmior standard stWle-nadeS!9r,

sto;61ma i&.

lru A"*odcunr is ttr attentntton Joi loto-usater-peak fifur


kon: Fe2+

kon: Fe3+

Coppec Cu2+

Chromium: CP+

Vanadium: V+

Water: OH-

Water: OH-

Water: OH-

Lb'ss due to 1 ppm of Impurity (dB/km)









Absorption Peak (nm)









Intrinsic absorption is associated with the basic fiber material (e.g.,

pure SiO2) and is the principal

a specifred spectral rigion. It

physical factor that defines the transparency window of a material ov"i

occurs when the

material is in a perfect state with no density variatilns, impririties, material

inhomogeneities, and any particular material.

so on. Intrinsic absorption thus sets the fundamental lower limii on absorption for

Intrinsic absorption results from electronic absorption bands in the ultraviolet

region and from atomic

vibration bands in the near-infrared region. The electronic absorption bands are associated with the

!an! sars of the amorphous glass materials. Absorption occurs when a photon interacts with an electron


the valence band and excites it to a higher energy level, as is described in Sec. 2.I.Theultraviolet

edge of the

elecfion absorption bands of both amorphous and crystalline materials follow the empirical


a'r= CPo


which is known as Urbach's rule. Here, C and Eoare empirical constants and E is

magnitude and characteristic exponential decay of the ultraviolet absorption *

Since E is inversely proportional to the wavelength 2, ultraviolet

the photon energy. The

.ho*n in fig. :.:.

absorptiln decays exponentially with

a-g/km ui *yiur"lengih can

increasing wavelength. In par-ticular, the ultraviolet loss contribution in

be expressed empirically as a function of the mole fraction x of Geo2 asl0



^"= #oox



As shown in Fig. 3.3, the ultraviolet loss is small compared with scattering loss in the near-infrared


In the near-infrared region

l.2tt\,the optical waveguide loss is predominantly determined by


the presence of OH ions and the

infrared absorption is associated with the characteristic vibration frequency of the particular chemical

bond between the atoms of which the fiber is composed. An

the electromagnetic field of the optical signal results in a transfer of

thereby giving rise to absorption. This absorption is quite strong becauseif the

the fiber. An empirical expression for the infrared absorption in ag&m for GeOr-SiO2 glass is10

inherent infrared absorption of the constituent material. The inherent

interaction between ttreiibrating b";J;;


from the field to the bond,

many bonds present in







dm = 7.81 x lo1rx *, [#)


These mechanisms result in'a wedge-shaped spectral-loss


characteristic' within this wedge' losses as

been measure6.l1' 126 comparisonl3 of the

materials in low-water content fibers is shown in Fig' 3'4'

low as 0.148 dB/km atl.57 pm in a singte-mode

infrared absorption induced by various doping

This indicates that for operation Note that the absorption curve

at longer wavelengths Gepzlo9ed fiber material is the most desirable'

shown in Fig. 3.3 is for a GeO2 doped fiber.




0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9


I 1.2 1.5

Absorption toss in/ infrared region i














Absorption tor, il *

ultraviolet region \






\l t{









Photon energy (eV)





I.E. g.S OpA"aWr atteruatancluracteristics

doped1c1r-&css low-usater:conlent Oscrrlrriet aL13),ir timi/Jr:g me.cnlyismsJor oG-&v

siticafiber. (Reprduced toith permissionJrom

3-1.3 Scatterthg Losses

Scattering 1o5ss5 in glass,af,ise from microscopic

variations in the material density' from compositional

fl-uctuations, *a ftom'"ilJt*Jhfro.qg"*ities or defectsoccurring dqnnq filer lanyfacture' As

Sec. 2.7 describes glasS-is cornposed of a-fandomly

,r*"rr, *;-,ri"; ;rd;

in which the molecular

density in the glass. m

connected network of molecules'

Such a structure

density is either higher or lower than-the average

uiAition, since glass is made up of ieveral oxides, such as SiOr' GeO2' and P2O5

compositional fluctuations can occur. These two effects give rise to refractive-index variations which

occur within the glass overdisbnces &atare small compred with thc wavelength. These index variations

cause a Rayleigh-type scattering of the light. Rayleigh


in glass is the same phenomenon that

scatters light from{he,sun in th atmosphere, thereby giving rise to a blue s!y


{) a










t-- ,/Geo,- Sio,




oA o'6 0'8 '*i,r*#,p*) r'4 r'6 r'8

Ffg. S.4 A glnula4swt oJ the

&ctu-loss stlha{lery

i4frared obsorpt{on irdured bg uariars doping moterisls in

u:ith permissionfrom Osanni et aL13)

The expressions for sca*ering-induced attenuation are fairly complex owing to the random molecular

nature and the vmious oxide constituents'of glass. For single-component glass the scattering loss at a wavelength .tr resulting ftom density fluctuations can be approximated byr' t+ (in base e unitJ)


dr.ut = #

@'- L)z ksTylr


Here, n is the refractive inde4, ft, is Boltzmann's constant, B. is the isothermal compressibility of th.g material, and the fictive temperaure Ty is the temperature at which the darsity fluctuations are frozen

into the glass as it solidifies @fter haviiig been drawn into a fiber). Alternatively, the relationl ls 1in base e units)

0r"ut =



nsfksTy Fr


has been derived, whwp'Bilre pEotoaastic coefficient. A comprison of Eqs (3.,+c) and (3.4b) iS given

in hob. 3.6. NCIe that Eqs (3.4c) and (3.4b) are given in units of nepers (that is, base e units). As showu inEq.'(3.1),to change'tliis ttidi:rcihels foropticalrpower attenuation calculations, multiply these equations



I l





l l



-t ii


rr OpticetFtbers

Examols,S-l For pure silica glass an approximate

equation for the Rayleigh scattering loss is given by

*(i) = ", (*l

where fis = 1.64 dB/km at .ts = &50 irn. This formula

predicts scattering losses of0.291 dB/lsn at l3l0nm and

0.148 dB/km at 1550 nm.

For multicomponent glasses the sEattering is given by3

o= - 8o',


16nr\, 6v


where the square of the mean-square refractive-index fluctuation (6n2)2 over a volume of 6l1is

(6o2) = (#l@p)2 + t [#),ro,'


fluctuation and 6C,, is the concentration fluctuation of the ith glass component

are known the scattering.loss can be calculated'

Here, 64


of f*-

thacomposition and density fluctuations are generally not known at

Once they


The _ magnitudes

determiied from experimentat scattering data.

Structural inhomogeneities

and defects

tg[t out of the nOer] ffrese






ffi*a regtons


created during nUer faUriclion can also cause scattering of

defects rnay be in the form of trappd gas bubbles, umeacted starting

in the glass. ln general,ttrc Pfform manufactunng

ryt $,htt


them is

extriasic!ffects to tfre point where scattering that results from

neslisible compared with the intrinsic Rayleigh scattering'



R;;l"igh r""*"cos follows a

* i-"*ho*n io Fig. 3.3.


loss mechanisms

in a fibei and gives the


dependence, it decreases dramatically with

For wavelengths below about 1 pm it is the dominant

attenuation-versus-wavelength plots their

characteristic downward uend with increasing wavelength. At wavelengths longer dran 1 pr4

infrared absorption effects tend to dominab optical

signal attenuation.

Combining the infrated, ultraviolet, and

scattering losses, w€ get the results shown in Fig-

3.5 for multimode {ibers and Fig' 3.6 for single-

mode fibers.l6 Both of these figures are for

typical commercial-gCIde silica fibers. The losses

ol multi-mode fibers are generally higher than

those of single-mode

fibers' This is a result of

higher dopant

concentrations and the

accompanying larger seatteri$g loss due to

grear€r compositional'fhr*stion' in rnultimode

multimo& fibtrs are subject

fibers.In addition,

to' higher-order:mode losses owing to




() i: l.o


d 3


0.1 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800


Wavelength (nm)

'I$ptutspecfuf aftrrluatiort rwqe

3[or produetion- run graded-rndex muttimade Jibers. fReProduced toith perrnission.;tlrom Keck,r6 @

perturttioas at the core;+la&ing interface.


Optical Fiber Commrmications

3.1.4 Bending Losses

Radiative losses occur whenever an optical fiber undergoes a bend of finite radius of

curyaturerlT-26. Fibers can be subject to two

types ofbends: (a) macroscopic bends having radii that are large compared with the fiber diameter, for example, such as those that

occur when a fiber cable turns a corner, and

(b) random microscopic bends of the fiber

axis that can arise when the fibers are

incorporated into cables.


E o


E r.o




Let us first examine large-curvature

radiation losses, which are known as

macrobending losses or simply bending Fig. 3.6

losses. For

slight bends the excess loss is

extremely small and is essentially



Wavelength (nm)


Tlpicat spectral attenuation raqe

Jor production-run single -mode

fibers. (Reprodtrced with permis sion

unobservable. As the radius of curvature

decreases. the loss increases exponentially until at a certain critical radius the curvature loss becomes observable. If the bend radius is made a bit smaller once this threshold point has been reached, the losses suddenly become extremely large.

Jrom Keck,16 @ 1985, IEEE.)

Qualitatively, these curvature loss effects can be explained by examining the modal electric field

distributions showninFig. 2.19. Recall that this'figure shows that any boundcore mode has an evanescent

field tail in the cladding which decays exponentially as a function of distance from the core. Since this

field tail moves along with the field in the core, part of the energy of a propagating mode travels in the fiber cladding. When a fiber is bent, the field tail on the far side of the center of curvature must move faster to keep up with the field in the core, as is shown in Fig. 3.7 for the lowest-order fiber mode. At a certain critical distance x" from the center of the fiber, the field tail would have to move faster than the speed of light to keep up with the core

field. Since this is not possible the optical

energy in the field tail beyond x, radiates


Power lost



Field distribution

The amount of optical radiation from

a bent fiber depends,on the field strength

at x. and on the radius of curvature R.

Since higher-order modes are bound less

tightly to the fiber core than lower-order

modes, the higher-order modes will

radiate out of the fiber first Thus, the total

number of modes that can be supported by a curved fiber is less than in a straight

fiber. Glogels has derived the following expression for the effective number of modes N"o that are guided by a curved multimode fiber of radius a.'

Ftg. 3.7



Curved fiber

Sketch oJthejnd,amental modefreld. in a

curued optical usaueguide. (Reproduced

u:ith pemtis sionJrom E. A. J. Marcatili q1d S. E. Mttler, BeLL Sgs. Tech. J., uol, 48, p.2161, Sept. 1969, @ 1969, AT&1)

,,,,"u = ar- {r



I' ]]


where a defines the graded-index profile, A is the core-+ladding index difference, n2 is the cladding

refractive index, k =Ztcl),is the wave' propagation constant, and





is the total number of modes in a straight fiber [see Eq. (2.S1)].

As an example, let us find the radius

of curvature R at which the number of modes decreases by 50 percent in a graded-index fibei. For this frber,let a=2,

Example 3.4

nz= 1.5, A = 0.01, a = 25 ltlrt and let the wavelength of

the guided light be 1.3 pm. Solving Eq. (3.7) yields



Ano*rer form of rdiatioa.loss,in


waveguide results from mode coupling caused by random

microbendsof the optical 1r6"rz7ao a6c,robends are repetitive small-scale fluctuations in the radius of curvature of the fiber axis, as is illustrated in Fig. 3.8. They are caused either by nonuniformities in the

manufacturing of the fiber or by nonuniform lateral pressurgs greated dlriqg thq cabling of the fiber.

The latter effect is often referred to as cabling or packaging'Losses. An incrOhse in attenuation results

from microbe:rding because the,fiberCurvature

modes and theleaky.or nonguided modes in the fiber'

causes repetitive coupling of energy between the guided

losses is by extruding a compressible jacket over the fiber.

configuration, the jacket will be deformed but the fiber will

tend to stay relatively sfiaight, as shown in fig. :.9. For a multimode graded-index fiber having a core

When:external forces are applied to this

. One method of minimizingmicrobending


Power loss from higher-order modes


Power coupling to higher-order modes

Smatl-scate Jhrcfuuatbns'in the radils oJ curuature oJ the fiber axis tead to

mioober,dfir€.'losses: Microbends cant strcd higher-order modes and' can cailse


ndes to couple to higher-order modes



radius a, outef radius D (exeluding tlie jacket), and index difference.A, the mierobending loss ao, of a

jaeketed fihet is reduced from {at of an rrnjacketed fibor by a factof I

r(ard= [r-,^,(:l 41'

Compressible jacket

Extemal furce


FlE. S.9 A conrpresstbleJurket ext?udd owr afifur redures mtxr:ltr;ndry resuttirgJrorn


Here, E, and Erare the Young's moduli of theJaeket and fiber, respeetivoly. Tho Young's modulus of

common jacket materials rangeB ftpm 20 to 500 MFa The Young's modulus of fused silica glass is

about 65 GPa.

3.1.5 Cgre and Clad{hg losses

Upon measuring the propagation losses in an actual fibe{, atl the dissipative and scattering }ossos will be

marifested simultaneous$. Sinee the core and cladding have different indices of re.ftaetion end therefore differ in composidon, tlte eore and eladdtng generally have differcnt Bttenuatisn eueffleiefits, denoted E1 and Gbi respetvely. If thc influenee of modal coupling is lgnored,s2 the loss for a mode of order

(U rrr) for a step-index waveguide is

%r,,t =",Y*nrY


whert the fractional pow€rs P*JP aud F *o/f are shown tn Fig. 2.27 for several low-order rnodes. Using Eq. (2,71), this can be rrtitten as

dun = A1 * (42 - Ut)-




The total loss of the wevryiide erur be ftund by surrrrning over all modes weighted by &o fractiorral po\rer in that mode. For the case of a graded-index fiber the situation is nrueh morc eomplieared. In this case, both rhe

ilre modal power uahd to be functions of the radlal eobldinate. At a distance

.r lionr the eote axls the loss lss

attenuatioh coefficients and


{r(r) = wr + (trz - *y d$-t'i$

(3. l 1)



wbelt a1 attd eE u€ &a *xt*l etrd cladditrg uttenuation eoefficienb, respectivelp rud the a bmm are

defined by Eq.@.78).The hss encountered by a given mode is then

a(r) p(r) r dr

ilat =

Ji n("1' a'


where p{r) ia the power den6ity

prinrnieb"* experimental

of firat mode at r The complexity of the multimode wavsguide ha*

cO&iation with a model. However, it has generally been observcd ttrat the

Sfgnrt Dl*tarGlon ln Flhers



shown in Fig, 3,10, an optieal signol weakens from attenuation mechanisms and broadens due to

ttreee two factors will ealle.neish.boltng pulBeB to

distortion effects aa it Eavek,&ng a frtrr, Errentually

orr.tup, .A,fter a eert6in amswrt.oi elrylap oeeurn,

thc receivqr e&n no longer disringuiah the individual

a{iacent pulseo'snd enorr ariec'r*b,ex iuterpreting tho reccivcd



r*otiuo f