A Major Breakthrough in Optical Fibre Technology
Scientists at Prysmian Cables & Systems in Italy have made a significant breakthrough in optical fibre design with the production of a reduced size, 200 micron diameter singlemode fibre - PrimaLight™. The conventional diameter of optical fibres for telecom use has, for many years been 250 microns and almost all optical cables use this size of fibre in their construction.
However as telecom networks continue to develop and the extent of fibre in these networks goes deeper towards the end user the level of congestion in underground cable ducts, particularly in highly populated urban environments, is becoming a critical issue.
Manufacturers have made great efforts to reduce cable diameters through the use of improved manufacturing techniques and enhanced performance materials within the cable construction. This has helped the congestion problem considerably although the lower limits of cable diameter have now realistically been reached.
Now, by reducing to 200 microns the diameter of the fibre itself - the basic building block of any cable - an additional step-change in cable diameter is possible. Agusti Valls, Senior VP of Product Development and Quality for the Prysmian cable business stated "This opens up tremendous possibilities on the cable design front. For example with the PrimaLight™ fibre we can now include 16 fibres into a tube element which previously had a limit of 12. Alternatively smaller tubes can be employed to hold similar fibre counts to those used previously. The effect on overall cable diameter is significant and for very high fibre count designs - commonly deployed in the access networks - overall diameter reductions exceeding 10% are possible".
Dr Giacomo Roba - who leads the Fibre R & D activity added "The 250 micron diameter has for many years been the de facto standard. However with every other aspect of cable and fibre design under review we felt that this particular fibre parameter should be no exception. We are very pleased with the results of the work we have undertaken and we believe that with PrimaLight™ we have made a significant breakthrough which will have far reaching effects"
The 200 micron fibre, which has been made possible by use of innovative technology, features an identical glass core - 125 micron - to the traditional 250 micron product, is in full compliance with ITU-T Recommendation G 652 and has satisfied all IEC testing requirements for transmission, mechanical and environmental performance. The relevant technology is covered by patents and patent applications. PrimaLight™ is currently being introduced into selected Prysmian cable designs and will be available for use within a broader portfolio of cables during the course of 2006.
Prysmian Group is world leader in the energy and telecom cables and systems industry. With sales of some €8 billion in 2011, about 22,000 employees across 50 countries and 97 plants, the Group is strongly positioned in high-tech markets and provides the widest range of products, services, technologies and know-how. In the Energy sector, Prysmian Group operates in the business of underground and submarine power transmission cables and systems, special cables for applications in many different industrial sectors and medium and low voltage cables for the construction and infrastructure industry. In the Telecom sector, the Group manufactures cables and accessories for the voice, video and data transmission industry, offering a complete range of optical fibres, optical and copper cables and connectivity systems. Prysmian is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in the Blue Chip index.