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Application note on Splice Loss

Issue Date: July2006

Supersedes: May2006

Fusion splicing is a technique to join two fibers ends. Optical power loss at the
splicing point is known as splice loss.

How splice loss can be measured?

An Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) can be used for splice loss
measurement. A cable section-containing splices are normally shown as knees
on the optical power loss OTDR graph. As per the procedure (ANSI/TIA/EIA-455-
8-2000), splice loss measurements with an OTDR must be conducted from both
directions and averaged (by adding with signs)for accurate splice loss. Below is
the graphical picture of gainers and exaggerated losses measurements; the
effect on actual splice loss is relatively low.

It is important to remember that actual splice-loss is the measured splice-loss in

both directions divided with two.

Splice loss A to B + Splice loss B to A

Splice Loss = ---- ---------Eq (1)

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0.04dB A to B + (-0.02dB) B to A
Splice Loss = = 0.01 dB ---------Eq. (2)

On which parameters splice loss is dependent?

The parameters, which control loss in any fiber joining method, can be classified
as Intrinsic and Extrinsic parameters.

Intrinsic Parameters
Intrinsic or fiber related parameters are determined when the fiber is
manufactured and cannot be controlled by the individual doing splicing.
Mode Field Diameter (MFD) is the most important intrinsic parameter. More
splice loss can be observed for higher difference in MFD values. The MFD is a
characteristic, which describes the mode field (cross-sectional area of light)
traveling down a fiber at a given wavelength. When fibers with different MFD
values are spliced together, a MFD mismatch occurs at splice point. With the
help of the following formula splice loss due to MFD mismatch can be calculated
from MFDs (in m) of two fibers

Splice Loss (in dB) = 20 Log + ----------- Eq. (3)

MFD of PMD-LITE fibers can vary from 8.8 to 9.6 m. As per the above equation
splice loss between two extreme MFD values is 0.035 dB.
Splice loss due to MFD difference
0.06 8.8
Calculated Splice Loss (in dB)

0.04 9.1
0.03 9.3
0.01 9.6
8.7 8.9 9.1 9.3 9.5 9.7 9.9
MFD1 (in m)

Figure 1

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Figure 1 shows calculated splice loss as per equation 3 with various MFD
combinations of range 8.8-9.8 m. Higher differences in MFD values between
two fibers increases splice loss.

Maximum splice loss due to MFD


difference (in dB)




8.8 8.9 9 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8
MFD (in m)

Figure 2
Figure 2 shows maximum splice loss of fiber with particular MFD value with any
other fiber of MFD range 8.8-9.6 m. Splice loss of fiber with MFD 9.3 m is
lowest when spliced with any other fiber of range 8.8-9.6 m. Splice loss
increase in either side of the band and reaches 0.05 dB at two extreme points.
Thus it is better to maintain MFD value close to 9.3m to achieve least splice
loss with any other fibers.

Extrinsic Parameters
Extrinsic, or splice process related parameters are those induced by splicing
methods and procedures. Splice process parameters include lateral and angular
alignment, contamination at the fiber end and core deformation due to un-
optimized heating & pressing. These external parameters can be
controlled/minimized by improving skill of the individual doing splicing and by
automated fiber alignment and fusion cycles.

It has been observed that splice loss between two identical fibers with same MFD
and geometry parameters is as high as 0.04 dB. This excess loss is due to miss
alignment and other splicing process parameters. Figure 3 shows fiber end
conditions with various un-optimized splicing parameters.

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Figure 3
Other important extrinsic parameter is fiber end angle. Proper fiber end
preparation is the most fundamental step to get acceptable splice loss. Generally
end angle less than two degrees gives acceptable field splice loss. End angle is
dependent on condition of cleaver and cleaver blade. Typical end angle of well
maintained cleaver is around one-half degree. Figure 4 is showing comparison
between bad and good cleaving. It has been observed that extrinsic parameters
can give splice loss as high as 0.4 dB. By controlling extrinsic parameters,
acceptable field splice loss can be achieved.

Figure 4 Bad vs Good Cleave

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Recommended Splicing parameters for Sterlites G652 fibers
ARC duration 01.50sec
Pre-fusion 00.10sec
ARC gap 10.00m
Overlap 15.00m
ARC power 00.20step

Alignment method
Auto Core Alignment

Fiber end check

Auto cleave angle check

Measurement method
Optical time domain reflectormeter (discussed above)

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