New Glass Fibers
Widen Range of Medical Lighting Applications
Optical fibers with higher light transmission and longer life spans
offer interesting new solutions for meeting the growing demand for higher quality lighting in medicine.
BY KAREN HOLST, SCHOTT AG
Figure 1. Puravis multicomponent glass fibers transmit wavelengths in the visible range better than
conventional Schott glass optical fibers. Images courtesy of Schott AG.
Figure 2. The new glass fibers (shown here are the data for the GOF85 product, as opposed to A2) minimize
shifts in color, even when long lightguides are used. This can be important for medical and other applications.
New glass optical fibers offer longer lifetimes and higher light transmission, and experi- ence only minimal changes in
color and dispersion, and these characteristics enable them to answer the call for
higher quality medical lighting. What’s
more, a newly developed environmentally
friendly process allows these high-purity
multicomponent glass fibers to be manufactured without using lead, arsenic or
In medicine in particular, glass optical
fibers have conquered a wide range of applications, mostly in endoscopy and surgical microscopy, but fibers also are used in
dental treatment and light therapy.
Improved high-purity, multimode step
index fibers will pave the way for new
ideas that extend well beyond existing applications. This can be attributed to the
progress that has been made in the composition and preparation of the special glass
from which these fibers are drawn at high
temperatures. Multicomponent glass also
offers an outstanding price-to-performance
ratio compared with quartz glass. Compared to existing fiber products, this
means significant performance improvements that are certain to offer major benefits in actual applications.
For example, it is now possible to increase the transmission of white light by
up to 10 percent (Figure 1). High-purity
raw materials for manufacturing the glass
are instrumental in achieving this goal. Of
course, many years of experience in melting and manufacturing glass – in the area
of refining, for instance (driving bubbles
out of molten glass) – reveal other ways to
avoid glass defects.
The fibers’ high purity limits shifts in
color caused mainly by impurities in the
glass. Thus, the illuminated objects retain
their natural colors even when longer
lightguides are used.