Sumitomo Succeeds Mass Production of Ultra Low Loss Optical Fiber with 0.14 dB/km

Japan-based Sumitomo Electric announced in a press release that the company had succeeded to produce Ultra Low Loss Optical fibers on a massive scale. Sumitomo has achieved the World’s lowest ever recorded attenuation of 0.14 dB/km at 1550nm for the optical fibers and is now capable to produce it commercially. The commercial production is planned for January 2021.

Sumitomo recorded the world’s lowest attenuation of 0.1419 dB/km In 2017, which was a laboratory test. Bringing this technology to mass production took 3 years. Now the telecommunication network builders can take benefit from this optical fiber with extremely lower attenuation. Lower attenuation values will definitely help network builders to transmit optical signals longer distances

Sumitomo has been researching to achieve the lowest levels of attenuation for its optical fibers. Around 32 years back, Sumitomo had achieved the attenuation of 0.17 dB/km for its Ultra Low Loss optical fibers. It was In 1988 that Sumitomo announced the success in mass production of this type of optical fiber.

Sumitomo’s Ultra low loss with 0.17 dB/km was branded commercially as pure-silica-core optical fiber “Z fiber™.  Along with the low loss fibers, Sumitomo has developed and launched ultra-low loss fiber technologies and related products to the market.

Sumitomo is planning to launch a new Z-PLUS fiber™ 150 having a typical transmission loss of 0.144 dB/km at 1,550 nm in January 2021, achieving a significant reduction in transmission loss from the current 0.150 dB/km product. Network builders can utilize this fiber for transoceanic submarine fiber optic cable systems that span thousands of kilometers as well as for the terrestrials fiber links that run across continents.

How does the Low loss Help Networks

Optical fibers are used for long-haul networks, that typically span hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. Attenuation or loss in optical signal is the major parameter that determines transmission distance. If the loss of the optical signal reaches a level that it becomes impossible to detect, then the signal needs to be corrected by using repeaters. Then, these repeaters are costly equipment and difficult to maintain. Optical fibers with low attenuation levels can support to reduce the number of regenerators.
Compare the attenuation of a 4,00 km link

Case I: Optical fibers with attenuation of 0.19 dB/km
Case II: Optical fibers with attenuation of 0.144 dB/km

Total attenuation from the fiber itself for Case I is 76 dB for 4,00 kilometers.
Total attenuation from the fiber itself for Case II is 57.6 dB/km for 400 kilometers.

This means the fiber with a loss of 0.144 dB/km can travel 127.7 kilometers more than the fiber with 0.19 dB/km before the accumulated loss reaches 76 dB. This equals 527.7 kilometers

Note: Loss due to connections are not taken into consideration in the above calculation.

Optical fibers are the backbone of the global information highway and contribute to the formation of an intelligent and well connected global society. The explosive developments in the communication industry demand high speed high bit rate transmission of data, voice, video, and audio signals across continents with the lowest possible loss in order to achieve the highest quality transmission.

The developments in cloud computing and 5G communication networks have made it essential for the network builders to increase the transmission capacity of optical communication systems. This in turn puts pressure on optical fiber manufacturers to improve on the optical fiber performance such as attenuation. Overall system cost can be reduced substantially by using low loss optical fibers.

Applications of Low Loss Optical fibers

* Ultra long haul transoceanic submarine fiber optic cable systems
* Ultra long haul terrestrial fiber optic links that run across continents
* Earthquake detection systems
* Fire detection systems
* Quantum Cryptography Communication networks

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