In graded-index polymer optical fiber (GI-POF), the refractive index profile is an important parameter in defining its bandwidth. However, direct determination of the refractive index profile of GI-POF is difficult due to its extreme thinness. In this study, the refractive index distribution of the GI-POF is indirectly determined by measuring the refractive index distribution of the GI-POF perform by applying the transverse ray tracing method to a simplified measurement system that we developed. In this system, a parallel tabular ray is irradiated transversely to a GI-POF preform. The transverse ray from the preform is then projected on a screen, and its digital image is processed to calculate the refractive index distribution. The calculation is based on a transverse ray simulation, a computer program that we developed in which the refractive index distribution of the preform is determined by comparing the displacement of the transverse ray projected on the screen with the actual measurement. The accuracy of this new measurement method is validated by comparing the refractive index distribution of a GI-POF preform with the refractive index distribution measured by the conventional method using an interferometer. We find that the refractive index distribution measured by this novel method agrees well with that measured by the conventional method.
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