Researchers engineer sustainable optical fibers using methylcellulose

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Researchers engineer sustainable optical fibers using methylcellulose

In the field of structural chemistry, efforts of a team of researchers at Aalto University and Tampere University have led to the engineer of optical fibers from methylcellulose. The finding is significant in a bid to use sustainable and environment-friendly method for benign fiber processing, thus, this opens new avenues for short-distance optical fibers. The findings of the study is published in the Small.

In terms of structure and functionality, silica glass optical fibers are futuristic. They can transmit light signals over tens of kilometers with very less optical loss and are tough for high-capacity communication networks. However, on the downside, the brittleness, energy intensiveness, and low stretch ability make lessens their suitability for small short-range applications. For such reasons, silica glass optical fibers are less suitable for devices for automotive, fabrics, endoscopy, and implantable devices and digital home appliances. In fact, the sustainable solution for these commercial, medical, and domestic use may be within biopolymer-based optical fibers.

Vast Availability of Cellulosic Materials opens avenues for sustainable fiber processing methods, say researchers

“Meanwhile, the wide availability of cellulose-based raw materials provides an excellent opportunity to unfold the hidden potential of renewable materials for practical applications. That too via sustainable fiber processing routes, said one of the associates behind the finding.

Traditionally, plastic or polymer optical fibers are used for short distance applications. However, their processing may involve temperatures relatively high and the use of hazardous chemical treatment.

“On the other hand, using methylcellulose hydrogel, it showcases optical fibers can be engineered at room temperature using a simple extrusion method that does not involve any chemical crosslinkers. Resultantly, the fibers produced are mechanically robust, highly transparent, flexible and show low optical loss,” added the research associate.

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