Abstract

An expanded beam connector (EBC) has been proposed and realized, where a single-mode fiber is seamlessly integrated with a ball lens exhibiting a near-zero back focal length (BFL) so that the incoming small mode exiting the fiber translates into an enlarged collimated beam via the lens. The structural tolerance for the fiber-optic connector is primarily relaxed by relieving the restrictions imposed on the meticulous control of the gap between the lens and the fiber. The EBC has been designed through rigorous ray-optic simulations and then constructed based on a ball lens in LASF35 (n=1.98 at λ=1.3μm), exhibiting an ultrashort BFL of 13μm. It was practically confirmed that an input mode of a 10μm spot relating to the single-mode fiber could be efficiently converted into a highly collimated beam of a 350μm spot that emanates from the ball lens, leading to a 35-fold beam expansion. The alignment tolerance for the fiber as well as the connector unit was scrutinized with respect to the angular tilt and transverse displacement. The measured insertion loss for the EBC, allowing for no separation between the fiber and ball lens, was slightly over 0.8 dB.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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