Tetramer Wins NSF Grant to Develop High Temperature Polymer Coatings for Optical Fiber

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II NSF project (IIP-1330948) will determine the technical feasibility and the commercial value proposition for high temperature, highly processable fiber optic coatings across a range of markets to include fiber lasers, fibers for oil and gas, avionics fiber, and medical fiber. Tetramer will be performing research to modify the structure of polymer coatings to provide enhanced performance which will extend the capabilities of current fiber optics. Coatings developed will advance our understanding of structure property relationships and establish new boundaries for the polymer system. During this program, Tetramer will synthesize new monomers and polymers and evaluate their properties for use as fiber coatings. At the end of this program, Tetramer anticipates it will have developed 3 new types of polymers with a set of performance characteristics which are not available from any one single material today. New fiber coatings will be developed which are capable of operating at temperatures above 300 deg C, having greater processability, and for laser applications, having lower refractive indices. The effects of this project will impact society in many ways due to the various markets in which the coatings can have a meaningful impact on the optical fiber performance. Fiber optic lasers are quickly becoming the preferred method for laser fabrication. By enabling fiber lasers to operate at higher temperatures, fiber lasers will immediately see increased output powers and longer service lifetimes. Higher temperature fiber coatings will improve down-hole drilling and the overall efficiency of oil drilling operations through better temperature monitoring in deep wells. This has the potential to lower prices of oil and increase oil production. Additionally, these fibers can aid in geothermal well monitoring which provide a green source of energy. The coatings under development have the potential to generate increased revenue and profit throughout the value chain through increased performance of products and enhanced market sizes through enhanced capabilities. Tetramer will also use this Phase II program to train undergraduate and graduate level students from nearby Clemson University and Tri-County Technical College.