Chong Hou, Xiaoting Jia, Lei Wei, Swee-Ching Tan, Xin Zhao, John D. Joannopoulos & Yoel Fink
Traditional fibre-optic drawing involves a thermally mediated geometric scaling where both the fibre materials and their relative positions are identical to those found in the fibre preform. To date, all thermally drawn fibres are limited to the preform composition and geometry. Here, we fabricate a metre-long crystalline silicon-core, silica-cladded fibre from a preform that does not contain any elemental silicon. An aluminium rod is inserted into a macroscopic silica tube and then thermally drawn. The aluminium atoms initially in the core reduce the silica, to produce silicon atoms and aluminium oxide molecules. The silicon atoms diffuse into the core, forming a large phase-separated molten silicon domain that is drawn into the crystalline silicon core fibre. The ability to produce crystalline silicon core fibre out of inexpensive aluminium and silica could pave the way for a simple and scalable method of incorporating silicon-based electronics and photonics into fibres.