Liquid-filled fibre bends, stretches and works just as well as glass

Swiss researchers have proved that liquid filled, stretchy fibre can transmit data and signals as effectively as glass fibres, while withstanding more bending and tensile stress.

The team from Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, developed a kilometre-long optical fibre with a liquid glycerol core throughout.

Empa has now developed a fibre with a liquid glycerol core that is much more robust and can transmit data just as reliably. And such fibers can even be used to build microhydraulic components and light sensors.

Empa’s Rudolf Hufenus said: "In terms of optically conductive polymer fibres, we've tried all kinds of things. But even with the best solid fibre cores, we can never achieve such elasticity as with our liquid-filled fibre."

With a special fabricating machine at Empa’s Advanced Fibers lab in St. Gallen, researchers have been able to make kilometre-long fibres filled with liquid for the last seven years.  

Hufenus said: "Two-component fibres with a solid core have been around for more than 50 years. But fabricating a continuous liquid core is considerably more complex. Everything has to be just perfect."

Armed with the knowledge that light could be conducted inside a water jet, Hufenus pushed forward with liquid-filled fibre developments.

The fibre that his team have produced can also withstand up to ten percent elongation and returns to its original length.

It can also measure how far it has been stretched thanks to the addition of fluorescent dye to the glycerol.

Via: Empa

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