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Medical Imaging

Plastic Fiber Optics for Sensing

Fiber optics for sensing applications are used to communicate with a sensor device, or use a fiber as the sensor itself, to conduct continuous monitoring of physical, chemical, and biological changes in the subject or object of study. Optical techniques developed for sensing purposes proved to be essential in many application fields, ranging from aerospace, industry, process control, to security, and more with the use of Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) in medicine.

The capabilities of these sensors are generally enhanced when a bulk-optical configuration is replaced by optical fiber technology. In the past few years the growing interest in optoelectronics has favored POF for its safety features but also to the very satisfactory performance. The reliability that optical fiber sensors are now able to provide advantages that optical fiber sensors offer to the biomedical field, recalls the basic working principles of sensing, and discusses some examples.

Fiber optic sensing is a key component to improving industrial processes, quality control systems, medical diagnostics, and preventing and controlling general process abnormalities. Fiber optics used for these applications provide very acute sensitivity and data collection versatility, while allowing for a wide range of specialized application uses.

Medical Applications

In addition to high speed communication in environments sensitive to electromagnetic interference, fiber optics are a part of many sensors that are being developed and used for medical applications to monitor tissue, to monitor chemical factors, and to image patients less invasively than previous techniques.

Medial applications such MRI, Cat scan, Pet or X-ray use very high voltages to power transmit coils or X-ray tubes. significant electromagnetic interference (EMI) is generated in the medical equipment environment so medical imaging designers look to fiber optic transmission media to protect patients and equipment against the effects of these unwanted signals.

Patents exist for In Vivo optical systems can monitor tissue in live patients during operation that previously required samples to be removed, passive multicore fiber based endoscopes can be used a flexible tool to safely obtain diagnostic images for a patient, and sensing in laser irradiation treatments.  A paper published by The Journal of Biophotonics in 2013 describes the use of fiber optics in an In Vivo endoscope to help diagnose stomach cancer is available here:

Fiber Optic Imaging using Polymer Optical Fiber (“POF”)

Fiber optic imaging is used for a myriad of applications across several different industries. The concept of fiber optic imaging uses the optical transmission properties of fiber to transmit an image from end to end. To accomplish this, most imaging applications use an image guide or coherent bundle to collect an image of the target or subject area, then relays that information to the view end for interpretation.


Imaging applications require individual fibers to be aligned, fused, and bundled to function correctly as an image guide. Bundling is necessary as a single fiber optic cable is only capable of reproducing a single color of varying intensity, based on what it received from the source or subject area. By bundling several, in some cases thousands of identical individual fibers, an image guide or coherent bundle relies on each fiber to focus on reproducing a single color, but collectively the bundle reproduces the target subject exactly.


Medical Fiber Finishing

FiberFin has a proprietary finishing process that is very unique to the industry and fits into the medical field very well for medical optical fiber sensor type applications. This process allows us to finish or “polish” plastic optical fiber to a mirror like finish, Some of this these can be quite small, some as small as 150µm in diameter typical in finish quality is qualified to a 3µm RMS polish. We have the FiberFin 4 termination machine that we can finish individual fibers or do multiple ribbon cables. We also have the ability to do custom connector assemblies.


FiberFin also has a semi-automated process so we can do hundreds in a single batch and do thousands of fibers hourly so that the cost is very low per fiber. 


FiberFin has a wide range of fiber optic cables, connectors and assembly products, offering flexibility to choose exactly the right cable solution fitting to meet the installation requirements. Cables and components are available individually, or as one of FiberFin s’ standard length pre-finished cable assemblies. In special cases we’ll even consider customizing POF or PCS cable assemblies to order. Contact us for additional information about our cable assemblies.

FiberFin also support plastic clad silica (PCS) , or trade name HCS® in a short line of fiber and connectors. UL approved, FiberFin also carries the full line of Leoni cables, which also carries a full line of UL rated and up to 10 fiber cable, we also handle Toray, Optimedia and Chromis fiber optics.


FiberFin’s years of experience and engineering using plastic optical fiber deliver on the unique demands of the medical imaging industry, ensuring that the integrity of the processed data not be compromised by the unique operating conditions found in medical imaging applications. Our partner Firecomms has developed their light sources and communications ICs with the deep understanding of the requirements of medical imaging applications. Firecomms light sources use Resonant Cavity LED (RCLED) technology to ensure the strongest output at the lowest currents while preserving stability after decades of operation. Our robust receiver topologies guarantee error-free reception in high EMI fields.

Firecomms has specific non-magnetic products for use in magnetically-sensitive medical imaging equipment such as MRI or CAT scanners. Please contact Firecomms for additional information.



For the transmission of control signals to motors or transmitting coils, FiberFin  offers Firecomms DC-1 MBd or DC-5 MBd transmitters and receivers are widely used with Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) and Plastic/Polymer Clad silica (PCs) fibers to galvanically isolate the transmission while providing immunity from EMI. Higher speed Firecomms DC-10 MBd or DC-50 MBd fiber optic transceivers are equally suited to MR magnet, patient table motor, or gradient control systems.

As it is advantageous to digitize the RF signal received in imaging applications directly in the coil to enhance the enhance the signal-to-noise ratio (snR) of the received images, Firecomms has custom designed non-magnetic fiber optic transceivers to operate within the strong magnetic fields of MR and imaging equipment. Our range of transceivers that operate at 125 Mbps, 250Mbps or 500 Mbps data rates are suitable for this purpose. taking it a step further, Firecomms Gigabit transceivers allow the aggregation of multiple data streams from the RF coils to be transmitted to the control room for data processing. utilizing optical cables for this purpose also provides the advantage of considerably reducing the number and cost of bulky RF cables. Patient monitoring equipment, such as video cameras, linked with fiber optic cables prevents patient injury within the coil. Firecomms Gigabit Ethernet transceivers are available in non-magnetic packages to protect against these occurrences.

Benefits of Firecomms Fiber Optics for Medical Imaging Applications

FiberFin products with Plastic Optical or Plastic Clad Fiber (POF/PCS) links offer many advantages in medical imaging applications:

  • - EMI/RFI immunity ideal for noisy environments, such as high voltage power supplies, MRI and CAT scanners
  • - Galvanic isolation between transmitter and receiver, ideal for complying with, or extending creepage and clearance distance requirements
  • - Visible spectrum operation enables eye-safe, fast troubleshooting
  • - Low power consumption, transmitters capable of operation at 3-4mA
  • - Durable, flexible and lightweight
  • - Resilient to bending and vibrations
  • - High reliability for extended machine uptime
  • - Industrial temperature in range of -40 to +85ºC
  • - Reduced maintenance cycle time provides up to a 20-year lifecycle on transceivers and cables
  • - Simplified field installation for easy termination of large core optical fibers in custom distances