RP Photonics

Encyclopedia … combined with a great Buyer's Guide!

VLib
Virtual
Library

Power over Fiber

Definition: delivery of power for electronic devices via light in an optical fiber

German: Leistungsübertragung über Glasfasern

Category: fiber optics and waveguides

How to cite the article; suggest additional literature

Optical fiber cables can be used for transmitting optical power from a source to some application. The term power over fiber or photonic power implies that the optical power is generated from electric power with a laser diode and at the end converted back to electrical power for some electronic device. That conversion can be done with a photovoltaic cell, i.e., a semiconductor device based on a material such as gallium arsenide, indium phosphide, or indium gallium arsenide. A typical system contains a laser diode emitting a few watts of optical power, a multimode fiber of a few hundred meters length, and a photovoltaic cell with an active area of several square millimeters.

Although an insulated copper wire is a simpler technology for transferring electric power, power over fiber offers advantages in specific situations:

Therefore, a number of applications can be envisaged in areas such as industrial sensors, aerospace, and optical communications.

Obvious disadvantages are the cost of optical components and the limited potential in terms of available power and conversion efficiency. There may also be a laser safety issue associated with several watts of optical power, which can leave the fiber when it is broken.

Choice of Wavelength and Power Efficiency

For short-range transmission, laser diodes emitting around 750–850 nm can be used in combination with GaAs-based photovoltaic cells. The power efficiency of a photovoltaic cell can easily be around 40–50%, i.e. significantly higher than for a normal solar cell, because the photon energy of the light is well matched to the bandgap of the photovoltaic cell. The electrical-to-electrical efficiency can then be of the order of 20–30% for systems with a short fiber.

Optical losses in the fiber, mostly due to scattering, limit the transmission distance and power efficiency of the system. Longer transmission distances (possibly several kilometers) can be realized with systems operating at longer optical wavelengths, because this drastically reduces Rayleigh scattering.

See also: fibers, fiber cables, laser diodes, fiber optics
and other articles in the category fiber optics and waveguides

How do you rate this article?

Click here to send us your feedback!

Your general impression: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Technical quality: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Usefulness: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Readability: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Comments:

Found any errors? Suggestions for improvements? Do you know a better web page on this topic?

Spam protection: (enter the value of 5 + 8 in this field!)

If you want a response, you may leave your e-mail address in the comments field, or directly send an e-mail.

If you enter any personal data, this implies that you agree with storing it; we will use it only for the purpose of improving our website and possibly giving you a response; see also our declaration of data privacy.

If you like our website, you may also want to get our newsletters!

If you like this article, share it with your friends and colleagues, e.g. via social media:

arrow