Researchers develop encrypted fiber optic tag for optical transmission channels

A team of fiber sensing scientists at Shenzhen University has developed an encrypted fiber optic tag that enables all-optical labeling and recognition of optical transmission channels, including access networks. Their research, published in the International Journal of Extreme Manufacturing, presents an innovative method that utilizes the feature information and spatial distribution of fiber Bragg grating arrays to store different coding sequences.

Unlike traditional optical link labeling methods, this all-fiber tag maximizes the unique characteristics of the optical link to achieve all-optical reading, recognition, and restoration of link information. The implications of this research are significant for the maintenance of optical distribution networks.

The fiber optic tag is based on a fiber Bragg grating array created through femtosecond laser direct writing. By strategically utilizing the spatial distribution, reflectivity, and reflection wavelength of the gratings, the tag can carry a wealth of information. When using an optical time-domain reflectometer for reading, authorized personnel can achieve complete and error-free information recovery.

Professor Changrui Liao, one of the lead researchers, expressed the importance of this study, stating that it offers an all-optical method for link encryption labeling and recognition. With the rising number of optical transmission links, traditional physical labels are costly and inefficient, often resulting in wasted port resources. In contrast, this fiber optic tag promises efficient and stable link labeling, presenting substantial market potential.

While physical labels or handwritten symbols can be used to number and differentiate links, these manual methods face challenges in the information age. First author Mr. Zhihao Cai highlighted the reliability and efficiency of their encryption labeling method for optical signal transmission links. Leveraging femtosecond laser direct writing allows for rapid mass production of tags, proving highly beneficial for optical network users seeking comprehensive information.

The team utilized femtosecond laser multi-pulse exposure to prepare a fiber Bragg grating array, offering control over various characteristics of the grating fragments, such as reflectivity. By utilizing the reflected signals of the gratings to increase the number of switch states represented by the fiber optic tag, its storage capacity is significantly enhanced.

Due to the distribution and reflection characteristics of the gratings, fiber optic tags offer numerous possibilities for reading and recovering information. Therefore, only authorized personnel can access correct optical link information, ensuring the security of the fiber optic tags.

Professor Yiping Wang emphasized the flexibility of femtosecond laser direct writing technology, highlighting how adjusting the number of laser pulse exposures enables regulation of the reflection characteristics of each encoded grating fragment. This ultimately enhances the capacity and potential applications of the proposed fiber tag. The research contributes to the practical task of maintaining existing optical networks and presents an exciting development in the field.

Source: International Journal of Extreme Manufacturing

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