Fiber-draw-induced elongation and break-up of particles inside the core of a silica-based optical fiber

Significance Statement

Nanoparticle-embedded glasses are important building blocks that can be important to overcome the limitations that are inherent to bulk materials and enhance the versatility of single-phase materials. A good example of this is the development of a new class of optical fiber lasers as well as amplifiers implementing luminescent ion-doped silica as the host glass. Nanoparticles in optical fibers offer augmented intrinsic features since they blend in the low cost and sturdiness of silica with specific spectroscopic characteristics that are not inherent in pure silica local environment.

As nanoparticles encapsulate the luminescent ions, for instance, the rare-earth ions, they generate engineered spectroscopic features. However, in an attempt to avoid optical losses induced by light scattering, it is necessary to tune the size of the particles. Another aspect of nanoparticle-embedded optical fibers depend on their capacity to develop random lasers. In addition, the optical features of these lasers count on the size of the nanoparticles.

Heat treatment has been investigated to control nucleation growth, which in turn tunes the size of the resultant nanoparticles. Nevertheless, this process has been observed to lessen the mechanical attributes of the optical fiber. However, nanoparticles must already be present in the preform. In addition, rheological and thermodynamical effects have also been identified to modify the attributes of the nanoparticles.

Thin rod of glass embedded in a polymer cladding has been identified to lead to the formation of nanoparticles. This structure can be tailored via the formation of capillary instabilities initiated by heat treatment. Cold drawing can also be implemented to form nanoparticles with controlled sizes out of this structure.

Manuel Vermillac, Jean-François Lupi , François Peters and Wilfried Blanc  at the University of Cote d’Azur in collaboration with Martiane Cabié and Thomas Neisius at Aix Marseille University, Philippe Vennéguès at CNRS, and Courtney J. Kucera and John Ballato at Clemson University reported the evolution of nanoparticles during the fiber draw process and demonstrated that fiber drawing itself could induce break-up of particles via rheological mechanisms. They also indicated that it was possible to take advantage of this high-temperature elongation stage to tune the size of the nanoparticles. Their research work is published in Journal of American Ceramic Society.

The authors synthesized the nanoparticles and dispersed them in 100mL of ethanol in a bid to elaborate the doping solution. The preform fabrication was possible through the conventional modified chemical vapor deposition method. The authors drew the optical fiber on a drawing tower through heating the preform to about 2000 °C with a tensional force varying between 0.42 to 0.44 N.

To analyze the shape of the particles in the drawing direction, the researchers used a 3D method of focused ion beam tomography.

The authors were able to fabricate silica-based optical preform composed of lanthanum-rich particles within its core. They then obtained the optical fiber by heating and pulling the preform. When the material began to flow, viscous stress induced deformation of particles into long threads. The researchers also observed that part of the particles underwent break-up. These mechanisms offer new possibilities for tuning the size and shape of particles with some interest in optical property tailoring.

The study by Manuel Vermillac et al. also highlighted that scanning electron microscopy measurements on the converse portions of the optical fibers, just as already reported in literature, were inadequate to characterize the shape and particle size distribution.

Fiber-draw-induced elongation and break-up of particles inside the core of a silica-based optical fiber. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Manuel Vermillac received his master degree in Physics, science of materials, from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France, in 2014. He is currently preparing his PhD thesis in the field of glass science, nanoparticles and optical fibers at the Institute of Physics of Nice.

About the author

Jean-François Lupi received the Ph.D. degree in physics from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France, in 2016. After his Ph.D. on photodarkening, he is presently involved in the field of mode instability in power fiber laser at the Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU).

About the author

François Peters, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Institut de Physique de Nice, Université Côte d’Azur. François Peters’ primary research interests are in chemical engineering. His work focuses on non-Brownian suspension rheology, with special interest in the influence of the contact interaction between particles on the bulk suspension rheology.

About the author

Martiane Cabié was graduated from Institut National des Sciences Appliquées of Toulouse in 2000. She obtained her phD (2005) in material sciences from University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse. In 2008 she joined the microscopy center of Marseille (CP2M ). Her main interests included transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques and its applications to locally determinate the analytical structure of a wide range of materials. Since a few years she focused on 3D analysis with TEM and FIB/SEM tomography to study the morphology of soot aggregates and porous or granular microstructures.

About the author

Philippe Vennéguès is an expert of Transmission Electron Microscopy with an experience of more than 20 years in the study of nitrides and ZnO heteroepitaxial films and heterostructures. His research focuses on the structure-property relation in epitaxial films and its correlation to growth. He has authored or coauthored around 200 research papers, most of them dedicated to GaN and ZnO which corresponds to a H-factor of 35. He is involved in several national ANR projects and EU contracts.

About the author

Courtney J. Kucera received the B.S. degree in ceramic and materials engineering from Clemson University, SC, USA, in 2009. In 2007, she joined the Ballato group working with a variety of light emissive nanoparticles and optical composites. After graduation, she was a Research Associate at the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies, Clemson University, where she continues to focus on a variety of light-emitting materials. She currently has more than 20 publications.

About the author

Thomas Neisius attended the Technical University of Berlin and finished his diploma thesis on time resolved electron microscopy under Prof. O. Bonstanjoglo. He made his PhD sudies at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in the group of Prof. R. Schloegl. Afterwards he spent 8 years at the European Synchrotron Radiation facility where he eventually became reponsible for a high brilliance spectroscopy beamline. Since 2005 he is research engineer at the Aix Marseille University  and in charge of the electron microscopy installations of the CIMPACA platform.

About the author

John Ballato is a professor of materials science and engineering at Clemson University where he is the inaugural holder of the Sirrine Endowed Chair in Optical Fiber. He earned a B.S. in Ceramic Science and Engineering (1993) and the Ph.D. in Ceramic and Materials Engineering (1997) from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He has published more than 350 technical papers and holds 34 U.S. and foreign patents. Among numerous other honors, his collaborative work on Anderson-localizing optical fiber was chosen as one of Physics World’s Top Ten Breakthroughs for 2014. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Optical Society of America (OSA), the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE), and the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) as well as being an elected member of the World Academy of Ceramics and the US National Academy of Inventors.

About the author

Wilfried Blanc was born in Paris, France, in 1973. He received the Ph.D. degree in physics in 2000 from University Claude Bernard, Lyon, France. From 2000 to 2002, he has a post-doc position at the ICMCB (Institut de Chimie de la Matière Condensée, Bordeaux, France), funded by Rhodia. In 2002, he commenced with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) at the Laboratoire de Physique de la Matire Condense (now Institut de Physique de Nice), where his main interests are the design, realization and characterization of rare-earth-doped silica optical fibers which are made by using modified chemical vapor deposition (MCVD) technique. He has published 55 research papers in international journals.


Vermillac, J.-F. Lupi, F. Peters, M. Cabie, P. Vennegues, C. Kucera, T. Neisius, J. Ballato, W. Blanc. Fiber-draw-induced elongation and break-up of particles inside the core of a silica-based optical fiber. Journal of American Ceramic Society 2017;100:1814–1819.


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