Proceedings PaperFiber optic connectors and splices for aircraft applications
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Fiber optic connectors and splices were designed for connection of multi-fiber cables within the aircraft environment as part of the FLASH program. These devices use novel `multi-fiber positioners' to secure and precisely position multiple mating pairs of individual optical fibers to achieve excellent light throughput characteristics. The multi-fiber positioner is a micromachined structure that includes multiple V-grooves in anisotropically etched silicon. Prototype splices were developed to create a 4- channel optical splice suitable for aircraft application. The multi-fiber positioner is mounted on a flexible polymeric `elevator' and housed within a protective metal shell. The splice and shell design have been developed to facilitate user-friendly operation. The shell assembly includes a novel method for cable attachment and provides an environmental seal. This splice design should allow practicable field use in adverse conditions. Prototype connectors were developed including a 4-channel connector housed in a MIL-C 38999 (shell size #11) and a 16-channel connector (shell size #19). The multi-fiber positioner is mounted within the connector shell using a `floating- contact' concept to provide vibration isolation and allow physical end-face contact. The fiber terminus and rear shell designs have been developed to facilitate user-friendly operation. The rear shell includes new methods for cable attachment and seals for environmental and EMI/RFI protection.