Fiber arrays have quite a variety of applications. Some typical cases are given in the following section.
Photonic integrated circuits and similar devices in optoelectronics need to interface with the outside world-mainly optical fibers. Usually, there is more than one input and output; multiple signals are guided in multiple waveguides on the circuit, and signals reaching the edge of the chip need to be coupled to the optical fiber. This naturally leads to the use of fiber optic arrays.
In this case, special precautions must be taken to allow effective coupling between the chip waveguide and the optical fiber, where the former usually has a much smaller mode diameter (for example, <1 μm) than the latter (usually a few micrometres). Usually, a special mode size converter is required.
Due to the small size, high-precision positioning of the optical fiber chip relative to the waveguide is required. This can only be achieved through active alignment, that is, the transmission is measured during the alignment process, usually using automatic control.
Usually, it is necessary to split a data signal to distribute it to multiple outputs. A typical example is cable television, in which the same set of TV programs is broadcast to multiple parties. The signal separation (usually after the fiber amplifier) is usually done using a planar waveguide circuit, and its output needs to be coupled to the fiber. The fiber array is a natural solution for coupling fibers to splitters.
Similar problems are encountered in fiber optic switches and wavelength division multiplexing used for network routing, where each fiber of a linear array may be associated with a different center wavelength.
In optical fiber communication, data can be sent through a single optical fiber at a very high bit rate, and it may be sent in both directions at the same time. However, it is sometimes necessary to use multiple optical fibers. Then hope to simplify the connection through the use of fiber array-based interfaces (fiber connectors). While establishing connections for all relevant optical fibers in one connection process, it also ensures that no optical fibers are accidentally exchanged.
Another application in the telecommunications field is the use of 1D or 2D fiber arrays combined with microlens arrays and movable mirror arrays made with MEMS technology to flexibly route data signals. This compact device can be implemented to operate a flexible and fast optical cross-connect switch.
Such technologies are not only related to telecommunications providers, but also to many fields such as factory automation, infrastructure monitoring, and fiber optic sensing.