Newswise — TORRANCE, Calif., Aug. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Physical Optics Corporation (POC) is pleased to announce an SBIR Phase III award of over $4M for the production investigation of optical fibers in zero-gravity. This past April, POC had the honor to participate in its first space endeavor sending an engineering prototype to meet the International Space Station (ISS). The prototype was designed and built by POC's Applied Technologies Division, sponsored by NASA's advanced materials research study. The study intends to evaluate the feasibility of producing optical fibers in zero-gravity resulting in higher quality fibers with a potential 10x improvement in signal loss (dB/km).
Using POC's prototype, NASA's advanced materials research study will create high-value optical fibers aboard the ISS. The fibers will be created using a blend of zirconium, barium, lanthanum, sodium, and aluminum called ZBLAN (ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF). Fiber optic production operates within the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). Extensive theoretical studies along with a limited number of experimental studies suggest that ZBLAN optical fibers produced in microgravity should exhibit far superior qualities to those produced on Earth. The resulting optical fiber is expected to help verify these studies and guide further engineering efforts to manufacture high value optical fiber in large volume aboard the ISS.
POC is excited to have the opportunity to continue this project in partnership with NASA and looks forward to having this new generation of optical fibers become a viable commercial product in the near future.
About Physical Optics Corporation
Physical Optics Corporation (POC) (www.poc.com - Torrance, California), is a rapidly growing systems integrator of advanced technology, serving military and defense, homeland security, and selected commercial markets. Since its founding in 1985, POC has grown to $115M in revenue, with over 270 employees, including 30 Ph.D.'s and 112 engineers. POC is a highly innovative, employee-owned company and is located in Torrance, California. The company currently holds over 160 issued patents worldwide, covering 60 technologies. As POC moves forward, it will continue its work in innovative research and development, focusing on several strategic thrust areas and advanced programs.