Radiation Hardened Optical Fiber

Posted by Gary Miller on Wed, Aug 18, 2021 @ 09:08 AM

Radiation hardened fibers are designed to handle applications and environments where there is greater exposure to radiation and the need for reliable data transmission in those settings. Circumstances where the potential of high levels of radiation exist include nuclear power plants or other nuclear-powered apparatus such as submarines, along with space applications, and high energy physics facilities. Optical fiber plays a critical role in each of these environments providing data transmission, gyroscopes, temperature sensing or diagnostics.

Radiation Effects on Traditional Fiber

Irradiative environments with high levels of gamma rays, X-flash, or other types of ionizing radiation such as energetic electrons, protons, and neutrons negatively impact the attenuation of traditional fiber. Levels of radiation, expressed as Gy, or Gray, can vary from 10 kGy in space to a GGy in a nuclear reactor core. Prolonged exposure of conventional optical fibers to radiation can create a Radiation Induced Attenuation (RIA), causing degradation and loss of signal to the fiber. In many cases, the temperature is also a variable that can impact fiber reliability with variations from -200O C to 800O C.

In addition, removal of the radiation source does not immediately reverse the attenuation. Variables such as light sources, radiation doses and temperature may impact the ability of the fiber to return to its original capabilities.

To deliver the reliability of traditional fiber optic cable in these operating environments, Radiation Hardened Fiber is required.

Manufacturing Radiation Hardened Fibers

Manufacturers have developed solutions with high levels of radiation resistance to address the need for more robust, hardened fiber optic solutions in potentially high radiation environments. OFS® GyroSil® and Prysmian®’s RadHard.The radiation hardened fiber solutions tend to include features such as pure silica cores versus the germanium doped fibers, as the pure silica delivers much lower RIA than germanium doped fibers. Other manufacturers leverage sophisticated solutions such as a Fluorine-doped design to improve the tolerance of the fiber at high levels of kGy, reduce the effects of RIA, and deliver a more rapid recovery rate.  

Learn More about Radiation Hardened Fiber

If you would like to learn more about radiation hardened optical fiber for nuclear power, energy, or aerospace applications, M2 Optics can provide several types for your testing and networking applications, customized to your needs.  Contact us today to get started.

Topics: optical fiber