Physical Optics’ zero gravity optical fibre making technology launched to International Space Station

Created April 25, 2019
Applications and Research

In Physical Optics Corporation’s first space-based optical fibre manufacturing project, an engineering prototype developed by its Applied Technologies Division was this month launched into orbit to meet the International Space Station (ISS).  This NASA-sponsored advanced materials research study is intended to evaluate the feasibility of producing high-quality, increased bandwidth optical fibres in zero gravity.

A zero gravity-manufacturing environment is believed to eliminate the defects in the manufacturing process that occur on Earth, said POC.  The elimination of these defects should increase the transmission characteristics of these fibres by a factor of 10, says the company.

Such optical fibres will provide what POC calls a “a unique optical transmission spectrum and have potential use in space-based applications such as remote sensing, Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), high power lasers, multi/hyperspectral imaging, atmospheric monitoring, and optical data communications.”

Ranjit Pradhan , POC’s VP of Applied Technologies, commented, “It is a great honour for us to be selected as one of several scientific experiments going to the International Space Station.  If this experiment is successful, there are many fields that should benefit from higher quality fibre optic materials, such as telecommunications, laser surgery, and other industrial and military applications.”

The photo above shows the launch of the POC technology cargo on board the Cygnus Cargo Ship, launched by NASA on April 17, 2019.

Physical Optics Corporation, based in Torrance, California, is a systems integrator of advanced technology, serving military and defence, homeland security, and selected commercial markets. Since its founding in 1985, POC has grown to over US$100M in revenue, with over 270 employees, including 30 PhDs and 112 engineers.

It is an employee-owned company that currently holds over 160 issued patents worldwide, covering 60 technologies. As POC moves forward, it intends to continue its work in innovative research and development, focusing on several strategic thrust areas and advanced programs

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This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.