The technology of expanded beam

The technology of the expanded beam connector

The typical fiber contacts, such as LC, SC and ST connectors and multi-fiber MPOs, is a physical contact with a fiber core with less than 50 microns (0.05 millimeters). Those types of fiber contacts are typically used in data centers. The small surface needs to align perfectly with the connected fiber core to avoid light loss which can cause transmission problems, and even complete loss of signal. The small fiber core and the need of perfect alignment causes the typical fiber contact to be sensitive to dust and particles.

Historically the military used copper in their communication systems but saw the benefits of the lighter and faster fiber optical technology. The development of a fiber connector that could endure a harsh environment began.

What is an expanded beam fiber connector and how does it work?

The non-contact fiber technology, expanded beam, are designed with a lens in front of the fiber-end to expand and collimate the light into a mating connector. With the expanded light, the impact of dust and contamination is minimized and can therefore be used even in harsh environments with lower insertion loss. The expanded beam connection is contactless, with light passing over a small gap between the two lenses. With no physical contact there are less damages from vibrations and mechanical forces, which makes the contacts withstand more mating cycles without frequent cleaning.

Collimating light in expanded beam connector 3D
Collimating light in expanded beam connector 3D

The benefits of the expanded beam technology

1. Minimized impact from dust and particles

The enlarged light minimizes the impact from dust and particles, which makes the expanded beam connectors ideal for harsh environments such as industrial settings or military outdoor applications.

2. Easy to clean and low maintenance

With minimized impact from dust and particles the expanded beam connectors needs less maintenance and can easily be clean with only water and a clean cloth.

3. Longer product lifecycle

The connector doesn’t wear and tear as much though to the no-contact contact. The highest risk of damage is typically during repeated mating cycles, but the non-contact fiber avoids this wear and tear.

4. Higher alignment tolerance

One of the biggest advantages of the expanded beam connector is its alignment tolerance. The enlarged beam size allows for more forgiving tolerances during connector mating, simplifying installation processes and reducing the likelihood of signal loss.

5. Suitable for a wide range of environments

The robust design of expanded beam connectors makes them suitable for a wide range of environments, including harsh conditions where traditional connectors might struggle. From military applications to industrial installations, expanded beam technology provides a versatile solution.

Where are the expanded beam connectors used?

The expanded beam connectors were from the beginning mainly used in the defense industry but is today used in several harsh environments such as mining, transportation systems, outside broadcasting, offshore and subsea, and in different types of industries.

Depending on the application for the expanded beam there are different sizes, Junior and Mini. In tight and cramped spaces such in a military vehicle the mini super low profile could be a connector to prefer, or if it´s more important with more channels the Junior size 12 channels would be recommended.

Different applications for a wide variety of areas

Defence & security

Defence & security

The resilience and durability of expanded beam connectors make them well-suited for military applications. In field deployments where environmental conditions are unpredictable, maintaining a reliable optical connection is critical.

Industrial applications

Industrial applications

Expanded beam technology finds applications in industrial automation, providing a dependable optical connection in manufacturing environments where dust and debris are common challenges.

Networks

Networks

In the network sector, where high-speed and reliable data transmission are paramount, expanded beam connectors offer a compelling solution. Their resistance to contamination ensures consistent performance in diverse network environments.

Broadcast

Broadcast

The broadcast industry benefits from the alignment tolerance and durability of expanded beam connectors, ensuring a stable and high-quality optical link for audiovisual applications.

Video of the expanded beam technology 

Traditional physical contact fiber optic connectors have proved to be unreliable in harsh environment applications due to their sensitivity to dirt, dust, mud, water, oil and other contaminants.

Our expanded beam connectors offer robust and reliable optical connectivity in harsh conditions, with improved resistance to withstand extreme environments without the need for special servicing or cleaning equipment.

All our expanded beam connectors meet the standard of MIL-DTL-83526 20/21.

The Micropol expanded beam technology

All the Micropol Fiberoptic expanded beam connectors, FALCON and PROCON, are according to MIL-DTL-83526/20&21 and Micropol Fiberoptic are the supplier of choice to the Swedish Armed Forces in all environments where reliable field tactical communication is a must.

Both the expanded beam connectors have a range from 2-12 channels and are available in both multi-mode and single-mode. The material is made from hard anodized aluminum but can be made in marine bronze and stainless steel. The expanded beams are tested for operating temperatures between -57 to + 85 Celsius, with 100 degrees Celsius as an option, and are all according to IP67 standard. All are hermaphroditic and are therefore compatible with most of the other brands on the market.

The Falcon expanded beam connectors are the results of decades of development and hard testing to meet the world’s toughest specifications. The patent pending technology developed by Micropol has by far the best optical performance in the world, and are outperforming the NATO standard (<1,2dB. The Falcon expanded beam connector Junior size are the only one on the market with an optional transmission on 40 Gbit/s.

The evolution of FALCON Expanded Beam connector

Learn more about the history behind the development of the FALCON Expanded beam connector, and the benefits of this high-speed quality connector. The Falcon Expanded Beam connectors has the best optical performance on the market with transfers speeds all the way up to 40 Gbit/s, compared to other brands with average 10 Gbit/s.

Related subjects

FALCON Expanded beam connetor

The FALCON connector has the best optical performance on the market with transfers speeds all the way up to 40 Gbit/s, this can be achieved with Micropol lens technology and state of the art production and alignment process.

PROCON Expanded beam connector

The PROCON connector is based on the proven FALCON design with the same high quality and durability. The PROCON connector will give you everything you expect from a Micropol product for a lower price without compromising on quality.