Optical EngineeringSelf-stripping of optical fiber coatings in hydrocarbon liquids and cable filling compounds
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Optical fiber coatings are in continuous contact with filling cornpounds in optical cables. They are also exposed to hydrocarbon liquids (either as cleaning or lubricating fluids) during splicing operations. We observed that hydrocarbon solvents such as toluene, acetone, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and light rnineral oils (in cable filling cornpounds) cause swelling and self-stripping in some dual-coated fibers. A numerical stress analysis for a swollen dual-coated fiber revealed that swelling induces a compressive radial stress and a tensile tangential stress in the secondary coating; both stress components attain their maximum values at the primary/secondary coating interface. The self-stripping process occurs when the energy stored (due to increasing tensile tangential stress at the interface) exceeds the fracture toughness of the secondary coating. This analysis has provided quantitative measures of coating hydrocarbon solvent/filling compound compatibility and will establish a rational basis for compatibility in optical cable filling compound design.