SABIC, Blovelight, develop integrated, single-mode WDM modules

Created May 15, 2023
Technologies and Products

Netherlands-based chemicals firm SABIC, has collaborated with China’s Blovelight, Ltd., to develop what it claims is one of the first integrated, single-mode fibre optic lens arrays for WDM modules. The design uses SABIC’s ULTEM™ resin, a near-infrared transparent, high-heat polyetherimide (PEI) material, to mould an integrated connector (previously metal) and receiving lens array (previously glass) and provide a housing for the WDM component. By enabling part integration and avoiding secondary operations, SABIC says the resin helps to make single-mode WDM communications more affordable. Blovelight says its module not only reduces costs vs. individual parts made with glass or metal, but also streamlines manufacturing and assembly, and complies with the Telcordia GR-468 qualification for optoelectronic devices. The component can potentially contribute to broader adoption of single-mode WDM fibre optics, an emerging technology that allows more energy-efficient data transmission over longer distances than multi-mode systems.

Compared to aspherical glass lenses the SABIC material, it provides greater design freedom and high-volume, high-speed production without the need for secondary grinding and polishing. From a performance standpoint, ULTEM resin delivers high near-IR transmission (>88% at 850-1550nm), a high refractive Index and excellent dimensional stability over a wide temperature range (-40℃ to 85℃) to help ensure consistent alignment with single-mode fibres. ULTEM resin also met the demands of the assembly process for Blovelight’s WDM application by providing high mechanical strength, dimensional stability, and the ability to build miniaturized, multichannel parts.

“I would like to thank SABIC’s ULTEM resin team for their excellent support in the development of our integrated WDM module,” said David Guo, Blovelight director. “The high-performance ULTEM resin enabled us to create this advanced solution for the optic communications market. We look forward to our next collaboration with SABIC.”

“The successful Blovelight application is a good example of customer collaboration that extends far beyond supplying materials,” said Scott Fisher, business director, ULTEM Resins and Additives, SABIC. “Blovelight developed a concept and design for solving a tough data capacity and energy problem in an affordable way. We were able to help them achieve their goals by providing not only a novel material solution but also expertise in design, application development and processing through our Opto-electronic Centre of Excellence. The centre underscores our strong focus on advancing the state of the art in photonics, particularly the adoption of advanced, energy-reducing technologies that facilitate fast, reliable, high-capacity communications.”

(Image: SABIC)

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.