Highly Rare Earth Doped Optical Fiber & Heating Element Comprising Same

Market Overview:

This highly rare earth doped optical fiber and heating element is superior to traditional methods, allow for the absorption of light for biomedical and microfluidic applications. According to Allied Market Research, the global optical fiber market was valued at $3,477 million in 2017, and is projected to reach $8,153 million by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 11.6% from 2018 to 2025. When Ytterbium (Yb) is doped into glass, it can absorb light and then reradiate it, forming the basis for a laser gain medium. With conventional methods, however, there is a limit to how much Yb can be doped into silica. Clemson University and University of Illinois researchers have developed a new method to overcome these limitations with a novel optical fiber doped with light absorbing species that heats up substantially under illumination.


Application                                                                   Stage of Development

Optical Fiber, Biomedical, Microheater,                    Prototype

Microfluidity, Rare Earth Doped Fiber



  • Yb is doped into glass rather than silica, allowing for safer, more efficient light radiation
  • Can be integrated into existing laser pointers
  • Hand held microheaters for medical applications among others still to be determined


Technical Summary

This technology features a Yb metal wire, which is inserted into a preform and drawn into a fiber. The Yb oxidizes and results in rare earth concentrations that cannot be achieved using conventional methods. When the Yb concentration reaches a critical level, Yb no longer radiates light, allowing for the optical pumping power to be efficiently converted to thermal energy. In a highly doped fiber, this thermal energy is then placed into a volume rod, which forms the basis for a highly efficient microheating element. This technology has an array of potential biomedical and microfluidic applications, including hand-held, portable microheaters and a micro-cauterizing tool, both critical to the field of  precision surgery.

View printable PDF version of this technology 


Inventor:                       John Ballato

Patent Type:                  N/A

Serial Number:             N/A

CURF Ref No:              2018-022

Patent Information:
Biomedical Sciences
For Information, Contact:
Chris Gesswein
Director of Licensing
Clemson University Research Foundation
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