The number of services providing large-volume information content, such as high-definition movies, continues to increase rapidly. Single-mode glass optical fiber (SM GOF), which has been widely deployed in data trunk lines and pipelines connecting large cities and nations, has already become indispensable as an information transmission medium. However, SM GOF is mechanically weak and lacks sufficient bending ability. Moreover, as the core diameter is very small, just 10 μm, extremely precise techniques and expensive devices are required to connect fibers to signal receiving devices. It is therefore difficult to lay SM GOF for very short reach networks, such as local area networks in buildings. These difficulties are recognized as the problem of the 'last hundred meters' for optical fiber infrastructure. Plastic optical fiber (POF) has a relatively large-diameter core and is flexible enough to be laid down for network infrastructure in the last hundred meters. However, POF has two important weaknesses: it has significantly lower bandwidth than GOF, and its attenuation is far higher. Recent developments conquering both of these issues now mean that POF is regarded as the strongest candidate at present for optical data transmission over the last hundred meters. Here we review the status of POF development and research, particularly with respect to the application of 'photonics polymer'.
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