Silica Fibre Fabrication Facility

The silica glass fabrication facility extends the research capability at IPAS and opens new opportunities as well as enhancing the range of applications for speciality silica fibres from photonics research in new lasers, telecommunications devices, nonlinear optics, sensing, electro-optic devices, to applications led research in industrial machining and medical treatments.

This $4.5M facility located at the North Terrace and Thebarton Campuses of The University of Adelaide is staffed by world class glass fibre formulation and fabrication experts – it represents a state-of-the-art silica glass fabrication facility that further extends IPAS capabilities and opens new opportunities for Australian researchers within these fields.

The North Terrace Silica Preform Facility comprises silica preform production via MCVD, Ultrasonic milling and drilling equipment and preform characterisation instruments. The Thebarton Silica Fibre Drawing Facility houses a 6-meter fibre drawing tower and fibre characterisation instruments.

  • Modified chemical vapour deposition (MCVD)

    The facility includes and MCVD lathe for the fabrication of doped silica preforms (dopants: Ge, P, Al, B, F , rare earth ions).

  • Preform characterisation

    The facility includes a Photon Kinetics 2600 preform analyser, allowing for the fully automated refractive index characterisation of optical fibre preforms. This analyser gives us the ability to fully automate preform positioning, facilitating rapid and comprehensive characterization of preform structure. From the refractive index profile data, the PK2600 calculates preform geometry metrics such as core diameter, preform outside diameter, and concentricity. 

    This data also yields equivalent step-index profile parameters, which allow prediction of drawn fibre properties and provide essential preform process feedback.

  • Silica fibre drawing tower

    The 6m drawing tower at this facility will enable the drawing of silica fibres in the temperature range of 1800-2200oC.

    In addition, this re-configurable and versatile tower will allow draw process modifications, as well as new research and commercial production opportunities of specialised optical fibres.

  • Silica fibre characterisation

    The facility includes a Photon Kinetics 2200 optical fibre analysis system. This provides a high performance, high capability measurement system for optical fibre. It provide high-speed characterization of the spectral loss of single-mode and multimode fibres. In addition, a Photon Kinetics 2400 fibre geometry system provides high-speed automated measurements of optical fibre end-face geometry. Repeatable and accurate measurement of parameters such as core and cladding diameter, core and cladding non-circularity, as well as core-cladding concentricity providing invaluable process control information. The facility also operates a re-spooler/fibre proof tester.

  • Glass and fibre characterisation

    Additional equipment available within the IPAS glass fibre manufacturing facilities for the characterisation of both soft and silica glass, preforms and fibres include specialised microscopes including a SNOM/AFM.

  • Scanning near field and atomic force microscope (SNOM/AFM)

    The SNOM/AFM part can run in collection or transmission mode, and is equipped with an IR detector and an in-built red laser. This equipment is available for both fibre characterisation and other applications.

  • Glass fibres surface functionalisation

    Surface functionalization takes a material whose surface chemistry is dictated by that material's surface composition and surface properties, and attaches to it specific chemical functional groups, or biochemical functionalities, to impart tailored physical, chemical, or biochemical properties to that material's surface. For example, a material’s optical properties can be changed, or the introduction of specific functional groups to react in controlled ways with molecules in fluids. It can also include the introduction of receptors for adding chemical or biochemical specificity to a sensor surface. Bulk glass, planar wave guides and fibre surfaces can be functionalised, both internally and externally, allowing the production for example, of novel optical based fibre sensors.

    The powerful combination of capabilities available at IPAS, coupled to its competence for synthetic and surface chemistry in the functionalisation of glass fibres, places IPAS in a unique position to offer its surface functionalisation know-how and facilities, to create new fibre-based platform technologies to underpin paradigm-changing tools for human health, the environment, industrial processes and defence systems.

  • Commercial services

    As part of the OptoFab node of the ANFF, IPAS offers a variety of commercial services from the supply of custom glasses and fibres to theoretical modelling and development of novel sensor platforms. Academic groups and companies are encouraged to contact IPAS with their specific requirements or to access our specialised equipment and services.

Key contact

Luis Lima-Marques (IPAS Laboratory Manager)
Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS)
The University of Adelaide, AUSTRALIA 5005
Telephone:  +61 (0)8 8313 0760
Facsimile  :  +61 (0)8 8303 4380