Applications in the infrared region (2.9 to 20µm) have suffered from the lack of a reliable, cost effective means of guiding optical power in an optical fiber or other flexible waveguide. Many systems still depend on direct line of sight, lensing/mirrors, or cumbersome articulated arms.
This severely limits the scope of potential applications, particularly remote spectroscopy, minimally invasive surgical procedures, and CO2 laser material processing and printing. Flexible hollow silica waveguides offer an excellent solution in many cases; however, one must appropriately handle the waveguides and design/control launch optics in order to maximize their performance.
The Hollow Silica Waveguides consists of a hollow silica tube with inner diameter of typically 300 to 1000µm.
The inner surface of the tube is coated with a silver mirror finish followed by a silver halide, thereby creating an efficient infrared dielectric reflector.
The reflector can be optimized for the desired wavelength region. An acrylate buffer is applied over the silica tube to provide protection from mechanical abrasion.