Conventional solid-core optical fibres require highly transparent materials. Such materials have been difficult to identify owing to the fundamental limitations associated with the propagation of light through solids, such as absorption, scattering and nonlinear effects. Hollow optical fibres offer the potential to minimize the dependence of light transmission on fibre material transparency1,2,3. Here we report on the design and drawing of a hollow optical fibre lined with an interior omnidirectional dielectric mirror4. Confinement of light in the hollow core is provided by the large photonic bandgaps5,6,7 established by the multiple alternating submicrometre-thick layers of a high-refractive-index glass and a low-refractive-index polymer. The fundamental and high-order transmission windows are determined by the layer dimensions and can be scaled from 0.75 to 10.6 µm in wavelength. Tens of metres of hollow photonic bandgap fibres for transmission of carbon dioxide laser light at 10.6 µm wavelength were drawn. The transmission losses are found to be less than 1.0 dB m-1, orders of magnitude lower than those of the intrinsic fibre material, thus demonstrating that low attenuation can be achieved through structural design rather than high-transparency material selection.
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We thank P. H. Prideaux for teaching us the ways and means of optical fibre drawing; G. R. Maskaly, H. Burch, K. R. Maskaly, E. P. Chan, O. Shapira, M. Bayindir, C. H. Sarantos and C. Guaqueta for their contributions;. L. H. Galindo, T. McClure and M. Frongillo for experimental aid; W. A. King, J. A. Harrington, A. R. Hilton, E. L. Thomas, U. Kolodny and R. Stata for discussions and support; L. Laughman, L. Newman, A. DeMaria and the team at Coherent-DEOS for assistance; and W. H. Smith, M. Young and the MIT-RLE for administrative support. This work was supported in part by DARPA-QUIST/ARO, the NSF, the US DOE, and an NSF graduate research fellowship (S.D.H.). This work was also supported by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) programme of the NSF, and made use of MRSEC shared facilities.
The authors decline to provide information about competing financial interests.
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Temelkuran, B., Hart, S., Benoit, G. et al. Wavelength-scalable hollow optical fibres with large photonic bandgaps for CO2 laser transmission. Nature 420, 650–653 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01275
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