Fiber switches can improve spectroscopy efficiency and reduce costs

A variety of piezoelectric systems can aid in spectroscopy, which is the observation and study of how light (electromagnetic radiation) is absorbed by different materials. Many scientific fields rely on this technology including astronomy, chemistry, biomedicine, and quantum mechanics.  One popular technique, Raman spectroscopy, is used to determine vibrational modes of molecules.

Fiber switches are the perfect solution to analyze different light sources. Up to 9 channels can be switched within milliseconds. Controlled by piezoelectric actuators fiber switches have no internal optical components and therefore avoid any form of optical aberration. Switches support fiber core diameters from 50 μm up to 600 μm. Their small size and ease of use make these systems ideally suited to add on to spectrometers or other metrology devices.

Optical fiber switch highlights:

  • Use multiple probes with one spectrometer
  • Switch light in milliseconds
  • Low insertion loss of a max of 1 db
  • Wavelength independent: UV up to IR
  • Lifetime switch-cycles of 100+ million
  • Low power consumption
  • Multiple connectors and fiber sizes

Working Principle

Fiber switches are designed using precision piezo components. The piezo actuators which moves the fibers allows the direct face-to-face coupling of the fibers. These high precision mechanisms require no internal free space optical elements, and they are not susceptible to magnetic interference. The precise positioning of fibers guarantees a light transmission of >80% with a typical switching time of <3 ms.

In many applications where multiple spectrometers are being used, adding a single fiber switch can significantly reduce cost and complexity.

An optical fiber switch can receive up to nine input signals and send output to a single spectrometer. The cost of a single fiber switch is considerably less expensive than the cost of multiple spectrometers. This will reduce your start up costs and increase your ROI.

Below are two strategies for how spectrometers can be organized in a manufacturing or research environment:

In this traditional equipment strategy, 4 spectrometers are used to measure 4 different data streams.
In this alternative, less expensive equipment strategy, the 4 data streams are managed through a single fiber switch, and then analyzed by a single spectrometer.

Depending on the cost of the specific spectrometers being used, the cost savings of using a fiber switch and a single spectrometer can be substantial less expensive than using multiple spectrometers.

Fiber Switch Models – Multiple configurations and interfaces are available.

Humidity Resistant Models

Fiber switches are also available in special humidity resistant models. This greatly increases their ability to withstand relative humidity up to 98% before failure. These special humidity resistant fiber switches are ideal for humid industrial environments, and applications involving operation in non climate-controlled spaces. This functionality is available in all fiber switch configurations, will not increase lead time, and adds minimal cost.

Fiber Switch Control Interfaces

Fiber switches are offered with multiple control options. They can be easily controlled via TTL signal (high and low) by BD code, and this is usually the most practical for switches built into the small casing (for 1 x 2 or 1 x 3 models up to 200 micron core size diameter).

RS232 interface is incorporated into our fiber switches that are built in the industrial rack size casing. For the small casing we offer a separate control box (part # Z-950-95) where the interface board is located.

A USB interface is also standard for the fiber switches built into the 19” industrial rack. An Ethernet interface (part # Z-950-100) can be added for all switches that are assembled into a standard 19” industrial rack. Users will benefit from the easy installation into existing network systems. For every interface type the required software comes with the fiber switch.

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