Abstract

The core–cladding boundary in step-index plastic optical fibers is imperfect. Surface irregularities locked in during the manufacturing process couple the guided modes by reflecting them in directions that deviate unpredictably from the expected directions. This causes an additional loss as the multiple reflections from surface elements with directions randomized around the nominal for the cylinder transfer the power to the radiation modes that are carried away from the core into the cladding. We model such loss and mode coupling by ray tracing. The irregular core–cladding interface is represented by nominally cylindrical surface elements with orientations randomly perturbed around two geometric axes. The results show mode coupling and relative loss per unit fiber length caused by the core–cladding interface irregularities. The loss is high close to the input fiber end where mode coupling is intense. It drops farther along the fiber as mode coupling slows down and stabilizes where the equilibrium mode distribution is reached.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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