Fiber optic connectors are very sensitive to contaminants like dust, oil and other dirt which can have great impact on the overall optical network, and can reduce its performance and maximum distance. Dust as small as 1 µm can have a noticeable effect on the connector’s attenuation (in excess of 0.5dB). Thus, fiber optic cleaning is one of the most basic procedures to main the operation of optical network system. It’s no exaggeration to say that cleaning consideration is the number one issue in fiber optic cable technology today.
It seems that the dust, one of the biggest enemy in the fiber optic communication system, can always find its way to reach the fiber optic connector interface. When a fiber optic connector is mated or unmated, both the plug and receptacle might be polluted by the dust, oil from our fingers or other contaminants. The oil can leave a noticeable defect on the interface of the fiber optic connector, the oil also tends to trap dust against the fiber. To maintain the well operation of optical network, many fiber optic cleaning products and methods are being invented to fight again contaminants like dust.
There are two main methods of cleaning based on the material used to clean the fiber optic. One is known as dry clean which is optic cleaning without using any solvent, the other is wet clean during which solvent, usually IPA (isopropyl alcohol) is used. Sometimes, the two methods should be combined. The following picture shows the suggested cleaning approach.
The following are some tips which might be useful during fiber optic cleaning:
- Both sides of the connectors should be cleaned, as dirt might be transferred from one to the other.
- Keep dust caps on the connector, but do remember to verify that the dust caps are clean.
- Do not just clean the end-face. The body of the connector ferrule should also be cleaned.
- Do the cleaning in a clean, low-dust environment
- You should not touch any transmissive or reflective surface of your optic and never reuse a lens tissue.
With proper handling and cleaning of your fiber optic, you can prevent damage and ensure their continued performance.