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23 February 2010 Mass production of planar polymer waveguides and their applications
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The increasing demand for planar polymer optical waveguides integrated into electrical printed circuit boards (PCB) calls for mass production capabilities: Hence, appropriate materials, systems, assembly concepts and production technologies become vital, in order to guarantee a high reproducibility and quality of the waveguides. The manufacturing and assembly costs have to be kept on a low level, while the integration of the highly sensible waveguides into the rough environment of PCB's with their cheap and non-ideal substrates is a particular challenge. The present paper describes an assembly and manufacturing technology for electro-optical circuit boards which meets these requirements. First, the manufacturing and characterization of multimode polymer waveguides is presented and the process for layer deposition and structuring is described. Specific attention is given to the reproducibility of these processes ensuring the high optical quality of the waveguides. Additionally, some problems arising from the integration of the waveguides into the PCB's are discussed. Second, various light coupling concepts are presented. In particular, a novel mirror element based on parabolic reflectors is described. The optical design was calculated analytically and optimized using computer simulations. The mirror element was fabricated using injection molding in a reproducible manner at high quantities and lowest cost. To allow for a wider tolerance in the subsequent assembly steps our novel electro-optical transceivers concept facilitates the use of conventional SMD- placement machines for mounting which makes the process very cost effective. This concept was demonstrated successfully and is also described within the third section. In the last part the practical use of this building set is illustrated with different successfully realized applications in the field of ICT and optical sensor technology.
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Felix Betschon, Markus Michler, Daniel Craiovan, Markus Halter, Klaus Dietrich, Johannes Kremmel, Jörg Franke, Max Gmür, and Stephan Paredes "Mass production of planar polymer waveguides and their applications", Proc. SPIE 7607, Optoelectronic Interconnects and Component Integration IX, 76070M (23 February 2010);

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