30 years of innovation in the field of fibre optic connectors

LEMO connected 3_article 8_cover

In 1985 LEMO launched its first fibre optic connectors.

Through continuous development, these products have progressively become leaders in all cutting–
edge sectors, featuring more and more impressive characteristics. 4K definition today, 8K very soon.

Exactly 30 years ago, fibre optics were still newcomers to the industrial world, which didn’t stop LEMO from taking up the challenge. At that time, René Moreillon was LEMO’s R&D manager. He still remembers multifibre or hybrid connectors (2B to 5B series) which were amongst the first fibre optic range. Their production required a highly demanding technology with groundbreaking precision standards. To achieve them, even some production methods had to be reinvented.

What a long way LEMO has come since then! LEMO’s ever improv- ing fibre optic connectors have become a must for a large number of various hi-tech applications: television broadcasting for all Olympic Games since winter 2006, the Royal Opera House in London, laser instruments for ophthalmic surgery, Japanese trains or measurement instruments for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne… These high-performance connectors are so reliable that some (the 0B) were fitted to measuring sensors of MIR, the first real space station in history.

“It was such a highly specialized application”, remembers René Moreillon with a touch of pride.

At the end of the 1980s LEMO launched the Optaball® type connectors, adapted to single mode fibre. This was a major first step, generated by a request from the Swiss public post and telecom, aiming at introducing fibre optics into telephone exchanges.

F2 ceramic ferrule contacts, introduced during the 1990s, were one of the major innovations. These contacts, in combination with the mod- ular concept of LEMO connectors, have made it possible to propose many solutions. Among these, a connector requested by Panasonic for its new HD cameras to be used during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. After a first version, a smaller solution (the 3K.93C) followed shortly, becoming the basis of the global standard for the ARIB, SMPTE and EBU standards for hybrid fibre connectors for the broadcast industry. The high-tech media converters that have been produced by LEMO over the last ten years are the direct successors of this technological innovation.

With the aim of reinforcing its leadership, LEMO created a centre of excellence dedicated to fibre optics (LEMO Fibre Optic Unit of Research or LEMO FOUR). It brings together all that is needed for developing ever improving products and connection solutions: prototype workshop, test & measurement laboratory and above all, high-level researchers.

This research centre has also been working on how to keep push- ing the limits of HD technology. For example, LEMO has just tested its fibre connectors for television broadcasting with up to 4K defi- nition (4 times the Full 3G HDTV). The next goal is to reach 8K in the near future which is believed to be more than feasible with the existing technology.