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Opt Lett. 2003 Jun 15;28(12):974-6.

Track of a fiber fuse: a Rayleigh instability in optical waveguides.

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  • 1OFS Research Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey 07974, USA.


The phenomenon colloquially known as a fiber fuse occurs when an optical fiber carrying high power is damaged or in some way abused. Beginning at the damage site a brilliant, highly visible plasmalike disturbance propagates back toward the optical source at speeds ranging from 0.3 to approximately 3 m/s, leaving in its wake a trail of bubbles and voids. We suggest that the bubble tracks in fused fibers are the result of a classic Rayleigh instability that is due to capillary effects in the molten silica that surrounds the vaporized fiber core. We report measurements of the bubble distribution and the collapse time that are consistent with this contention.

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