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Title:
ELASTICALLY DEFORMABLE HOLDER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/105354
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An elastically deformable holder has a holder body made of an elastically deformable material such as, for example, a shape memory alloy, that deforms elastically in response to an application of force. The holder also includes a fiber-receiving opening disposed within the holder body. The fiber-receiving opening defines a longitudinal slot extending through the body. The fiber-receiving opening is adapted to expand when force is applied to the holder body to thereby receive a fiber and then to contract when the force is released to thereby hold the fiber. The holder may be used to interface with either a plan emission/reception area or a side emission/reception area of a substrate (e.g. an integrated circuit or chip). The holder may include a deformation cavity to facilitate and then limit deformation of the body. The holder may include multiple fiber-receiving openings and even multiple substrate-receiving openings.

Inventors:
ZIVOJINOVIC PATRICK (CA)
CERUTTI ROBIN (CA)
WEYNANT ERIC (CA)
Application Number:
CA2010/000394
Publication Date:
September 23, 2010
Filing Date:
March 17, 2010
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PHASOPTX INC (CA)
ZIVOJINOVIC PATRICK (CA)
CERUTTI ROBIN (CA)
WEYNANT ERIC (CA)
International Classes:
G02B6/42; F16B2/22; F16B9/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2008151445A12008-12-18
Foreign References:
US7377703B22008-05-27
US7121731B22006-10-17
US20070031090A12007-02-08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MANOLAKIS, Emmanuel et al. (1 Place Ville Marie 37th Floo, Montréal Québec H3B 3P4, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS :

1. An elastically deformable holder comprising: a holder body made of an elastically deformable material that deforms elastically in response to an application of force; and a fiber-receiving opening disposed within the holder body, the fiber-receiving opening defining a longitudinal slot extending through the body, the fiber-receiving opening being adapted to expand when force is applied to the holder body to thereby receive a fiber and then to contract when the force is released to thereby hold the fiber.

2. The holder as claimed in claim 1 wherein the fiber- receiving opening extends through the body from a top surface of the body and wherein the body has an underside that is adapted to interface with a plan emission/reception area that is disposed on a top surface of a substrate.

3. The holder as claimed in claim 1 wherein the body has a substrate-receiving opening that expands when a force is applied to the body to thereby receive a substrate and then contracts when the force is released to thereby hold the substrate, and wherein the fiber-receiving opening extends from a top surface of the body to the substrate-receiving opening to thereby interface with a plan emission/reception area disposed substantially near a side of the substrate.

4. The holder as claimed in claim 1 wherein the body has a substrate-receiving opening that expands when a force is applied to the body to thereby receive a substrate and then contracts when the force is released to thereby hold the substrate, and wherein the fiber-receiving opening extends from a side surface of the body to the substrate-receiving opening to thereby interface with a side emission/reception area of the substrate.

5. The holder as claimed in claim 2 wherein the body includes a deformation cavity that enables and then limits deformation of the body.

6. The holder as claimed in claim 3 wherein the body includes a deformation cavity that enables and then limits deformation of the body.

7. The holder as claimed in claim 4 wherein the body includes a deformation cavity that enables and then limits deformation of the body.

8. The holder as claimed in claim 5 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends orthogonally to the underside of the body.

9. The holder as claimed in claim 6 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends orthogonally to the substrate-receiving opening.

10. The holder as claimed in claim 7 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends orthogonally to the substrate-receiving opening.

11. The holder as claimed in claim 5 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends obliquely to the underside of the body.

12. The holder as claimed in claim 6 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends obliquely to the substrate-receiving opening.

13. The holder as claimed in claim 7 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends obliquely to the substrate-receiving opening.

14. The holder as claimed in claim 5 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends substantially orthogonally to a deformation slit defining the deformation cavity.

15. The holder as claimed in claim 6 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends substantially orthogonally to a first deformation slit defining the deformation cavity for actuating the fiber-receiving opening, the opening slit extending substantially parallel to a second deformation slit defining the deformation cavity for actuating the substrate-receiving opening .

16. The holder as claimed in claim 7 wherein the fiber- receiving opening comprises a substantially cylindrical portion and an opening slit that extends substantially orthogonally to a common deformation slit defining the deformation cavity for sequentially actuating the fiber- receiving opening and the substrate-receiving opening.

17. The holder as claimed in claim 5 wherein the body comprises a plurality of fiber-receiving openings.

18. The holder as claimed in claim 6 wherein the body comprises a plurality of fiber-receiving openings.

19. The holder as claimed in claim 7 wherein the body comprises a plurality of fiber-receiving openings.

20. The holder as claimed in claim 17 wherein the body further comprises a dividing slit for separating the fiber-receiving openings.

21. The holder as claimed in claim 18 wherein the body further comprises a dividing slit for separating the fiber-receiving openings.

22. The holder as claimed in claim 19 wherein the body further comprises a dividing slit for separating the fiber-receiving openings .

23. The holder as claimed in claim 17 wherein the fiber- receiving openings share a common opening slit and thus expand and contract in unison.

24. The holder as claimed in claim 18 wherein the fiber- receiving openings share a common opening slit and thus expand and contract in unison.

25. The holder as claimed in claim 19 wherein the fiber- receiving openings share a common opening slit and thus expand and contract in unison. 26. The holder as claimed in claim 2 wherein the body is made of a shape memory alloy.

27. The holder as claimed in claim 3 wherein the body is made of a shape memory alloy.

28. The holder as claimed in claim 4 wherein the body is made of a shape memory alloy.

29. A method of holding an optical fiber for interfacing with a substrate, the method comprising: providing an elastically deformable holder having a body made of an elastically deformable material that deforms elastically in response to an application of force; exerting a force on the body of the holder to cause a fiber-receiving opening in the body to expand; inserting the optical fiber into the fiber-receiving opening; releasing the force to cause the fiber-receiving opening to contract, thereby restraining the fiber in the holder; and positioning the substrate relative to the fiber.

30. The method as claimed in claim 29 wherein positioning comprises positioning an underside of the body relative to the substrate.

31. The method as claimed in claim 29 wherein positioning the substrate relative to the fiber comprises: exerting force on a different portion of the holder to cause the holder to deform elastically, thereby causing a substrate-receiving opening in the body of the holder to expand; inserting the substrate into the substrate-receiving opening; and releasing the force to cause the substrate-receiving opening to restrain the substrate in the holder.

32. The method as claimed in claim 31 wherein the fiber is inserted into a fiber-receiving opening extending from a top surface of the body into the substrate-receiving opening.

33. The method as claimed in claim 31 wherein the fiber is inserted into a fiber-receiving opening extending from a side surface of the body into the substrate-receiving opening.

34. The method as claimed in claim 29 wherein inserting the optical fiber comprises inserting the optical fiber at an oblique angle relative to the substrate.

35. The method as claimed in claim 29 wherein exerting force on the holder and inserting the optical fiber is performed repeatedly to install multiple optical fibers into respective fiber-receiving openings separated by one or more dividing slits in the body of the holder.

36. The method as claimed in claim 29 wherein exerting force on the holder and inserting the optical fiber comprises inserting a group of parallel fibers into respective fiber-receiving openings in the body of the holder.

37. The method as claimed in claim 31 wherein exerting force on the holder and inserting the substrate comprises repeatedly exerting force and inserting a plurality of substrates into respective substrate-receiving openings in the holder.

38. The method as claimed in claim 31 further comprising holding opposite sides of the substrate with two elastically deformable holders.

Description:
ELASTICALLY DEFORMABLE HOLDER

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to optical interfaces between optical fibers and substrates and, in particular, to holders for restraining optical fibers in relation to substrates .

BACKGROUND

[0002] Electronic and optoelectronic devices are fabricated on different types of substrates such as silicon, glass, or plastic. Optoelectronics on an integrated circuit (IC) is composed of active elements (e.g. photodiode, vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL), etc.) as well as waveguides and logic.

[0003] Coupling an optical fiber to a substrate requires precise positioning of the fiber core relative to the chip area that is supposed to emit or receive the optical signals (i.e. the emission/reception area or reception area of the integrated circuit) . Precision alignment of the fiber core with the VCSEL, taper, etc. is challenging. Furthermore, known mechanical couplings typically require the use of glue. The use of glue is problematic where the coupling is exposed to temperature extremes, particularly extreme heat. Moreover, the use of glue impedes fine adjustment of the fiber for addressing light polarization issues. Glue also hinders reconnection of fibers.

[0004] In view of these shortcomings, an improved means for coupling an optical fiber to a substrate remains highly desirable . SUMMARY

[0005] In broad terms, the present invention provides an elastically deformable holder having a body made of an elastically deformable material such as, for example, a shape memory alloy or equivalent, that can be deformed under the application of a force to cause a fiber-receiving opening in the body to expand or widen for insertion of an optical fiber. When the force on the body is released, the fiber-receiving opening contracts due to the elasticity of the body to thereby hold or restrain the fiber within the fiber-receiving opening. The holder may also include a substrate-receiving opening which also expands and contracts under the application and subsequent release of a force. The holder may be used to position an optical fiber relative to a substrate, either for interfacing with (i) a plan emission/reception area disposed on the top surface of the substrate, (ii) a plan emission/reception area disposed near a side of the substrate, or (iii) a side emission/reception area of the substrate. The present invention provides a versatile and efficient mechanical connection for interfacing fibers with substrates. Since glue is not necessarily required to hold the fiber in place relative to the substrate, the connection is more resistant to extreme temperature fluctuations, particularly heat. The absence of glue in the connection furthermore enables easy adjustment of the orientation of the fiber in the connection to account for polarization issues. Moreover, the absence of glue means that a fiber may be disconnected and reconnected.

[0006] Accordingly, one main aspect of the present invention is an elastically deformable holder having a holder body made of an elastically deformable material that deforms elastically in response to an application of force. The holder also includes a fiber-receiving opening disposed within the holder body. The fiber-receiving opening defines a longitudinal slot extending through the body. The fiber-receiving opening is adapted to expand when force is applied to the holder body to thereby receive a fiber and then to contract when the force is released to thereby hold the fiber.

[0007] In one set of embodiments of this invention, the fiber-receiving opening extends through the body from a top surface of the body. Furthermore, the body has an underside that is adapted to interface with a plan emission/reception area that is disposed substantially on a top surface of a substrate .

[0008] In another set of embodiments of this invention, the body has a substrate-receiving opening that expands when a force is applied to the body to thereby receive a substrate and then contracts when the force is released to thereby hold the substrate. Furthermore, the fiber-receiving opening extends from a top surface of the body to the substrate- receiving opening to thereby interface with a plan emission/reception area disposed substantially near a side of the substrate.

[0009] In yet another set of embodiments of this invention, the body has a substrate-receiving opening that expands when a force is applied to the body to thereby receive a substrate and then contracts when the force is released to thereby hold the substrate. Furthermore, the fiber-receiving opening extends from a side surface of the body to the substrate- receiving opening to thereby interface with a side emission/reception area of the substrate.

[0010] A further main aspect of the present invention is a method of holding an optical fiber for interfacing with a substrate. The method involves providing an elastically deformable holder having a body made of an elastically deformable material that deforms elastically in response to an application of force, exerting a force on the body of the holder to cause a fiber-receiving opening in the body to expand, inserting the optical fiber into the fiber-receiving opening, releasing the force to cause the fiber-receiving opening to contract, thereby restraining the fiber in the holder, and positioning the substrate relative to the fiber.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in combination with the appended drawings, in which:

[0012] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an elastically deformable holder for interfacing with a plan emission/reception area of a substrate in accordance with a first main category of embodiments of the present invention;

[0013] FIG. 2A presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder in which the fiber is oriented orthogonally to the substrate;

[0014] FIG. 2B presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder in which the fiber is oriented obliquely to the substrate;

[0015] FIG. 3 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder showing a fiber being inserted into an expanded fiber-receiving opening while a pressure on the holder is being exerted to deform the holder;

[0016] FIG. 4 presents solid and semi-transparent side elevation views of the holder of FIG. 3; [0017] FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the holder of FIG. 3;

[0018] FIG. 6 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder in accordance with another embodiment in which the holder has three vertical flber-receivmg slots and a deformation cavity for enabling and then limiting deformation of the holder;

[0019] FIG. 7 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder in accordance with another embodiment in which the holder has two vertical fiber- receivmg slots and a deformation cavity for enabling and then limiting deformation of the holder and wherein the holder also includes a dividing slit for separately actuating the fiber- receivmg slots;

[0020] FIG. 8 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder in accordance with another embodiment wherein the holder includes two flber-receivmg slots, a central dividing slit for separately actuating the flber-receivmg openings, and a joint deformation augmenting/limiting cavity extending m an interior portion of the connector body;

[0021] FIG. 9 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder in accordance with another embodiment wherein the holder includes two flber-receivmg slots, a central dividing slit for separately actuating the flber-receivmg openings, and two separate deformation augmenting/limiting cavities;

[0022] FIG. 10 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder m accordance with another embodiment wherein the holder includes two flber-receivmg slots and two deformation cavities extending inwardly from opposite sides of the connector body; [0023] FIG. 11 depicts an example of a multi-holder packaging that could be used, for example, on top of an integrated circuit ;

[0024] FIG. 12 is an isometric view of an elastically deformable holder for interfacing with a plan emission/reception area that is placed close to a side of a chip in accordance with a second main category of embodiments of the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 13 presents solid and semi-transparent side elevation views of a holder having a fiber receiving-opening on a top surface of the holder, a substrate-receiving opening for receiving a substrate on a side of the holder, and respective deformation cavities for separately actuating the fiber-receiving opening and the substrate-receiving opening;

[0026] FIG. 14 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of the holder of FIG. 13;

[0027] FIG. 14B presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a variant of the holder of FIGS. 13 and 14;

[0028] FIG. 15 presents solid and semi-transparent front elevation views of the holder of FIG. 13;

[0029] FIG. 16A is a side view of the holder of FIG. 13 when the holder is deformed to expand the fiber-receiving opening;

[0030] FIG. 16B is a side view of the holder of FIG. 13 in an original (resting) undeformed shape;

[0031] FIG. 16C is a side view of the holder of FIG. 13 when the holder is deformed to expand the substrate-receiving opening; [0032] FIG. 17 presents solid and semi-transparent side isometric views of another embodiment of the holder having two fiber-receiving slots separated by a dividing slit and a substrate-receiving opening and further having deformation cavities for actuating the openings;

[0033] FIG. 18 presents solid and semi-transparent side isometric views of another embodiment of the holder having three fiber-receiving slots that are actuated as a group and a substrate-receiving opening and further having deformation cavities for actuating the openings;

[0034] FIG. 19 is an isometric view of an elastically deformable holder for interfacing with a side emission/reception area of a substrate in accordance with a third main category of embodiments of the present invention;

[0035] FIG. 20 presents solid and semi-transparent side elevation views of a holder having a substrate-receiving opening, a fiber-receiving opening, and a common deformation cavity for sequentially actuating the substrate-receiving opening and the fiber-receiving opening;

[0036] FIG. 21 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of the holder of FIG. 20;

[0037] FIG. 22 presents front and rear elevation views of the holder of FIG. 20;

[0038] FIG. 23A is a side view of the holder of FIG. 20 when the holder is deformed to expand the fiber-receiving opening;

[0039] FIG. 23B is a side view of the holder of FIG. 20 in an original (resting) undeformed shape; [0040] FIG. 23C is a side view of the holder of FIG. 20 when the holder is deformed to expand the substrate-receiving opening;

[0041] FIG. 24 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder in accordance with another embodiment wherein the holder has two fiber-receiving slots separated by a dividing slit, one substrate-receiving opening, and a common deformation cavity for sequentially actuating the fiber-receiving opening and the substrate-receiving opening;

[0042] FIG. 25 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder in accordance with another embodiment in which the holder has three fiber-receiving slots sharing a common opening slit, one substrate-receiving opening and a common deformation cavity for sequentially actuating the three (grouped) fiber-receiving slots and the substrate- receiving opening;

[0043] FIG. 26 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder in accordance with another embodiment in which the holder has two independently actuated fiber-receiving slots, two independently actuated substrate- receiving openings and two deformation cavities for independently actuating any of the openings;

[0044] FIG. 27 is a side view of two multi-connector holders used to hold a common substrate from opposite sides in respective substrate-receiving openings, each holder further having three fiber-receiving slots; and

[0045] FIG. 28 is a side view of another example of two multi-connector holders used to hold a common substrate from opposite sides in respective substrate-receiving openings, each holder further having three fiber-receiving slots. [0046] It will be noted that throughout the appended drawings, like features are identified by like reference numerals. It should furthermore be noted that the drawings are not necessarily to scale.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0047] In general, and by way of overview, the present invention provides an elastically deformable holder for holding an optical fiber in relation to a substrate or equivalent structure. The holder is constructed of highly elastically deformable material such as, for example, a shape memory alloy, shape memory polymer or equivalent, that exhibits extremely high elasticity when forces are applied to the body of the holder. The holder has a fiber-receiving opening for receiving and holding the optical fiber. The fiber-receiving opening is expanded and contracted by exerting a force on the deformable body of the holder. In other words, the fiber-receiving opening is actuated (opened and closed) by applying force or pressure at predetermined locations of the outer surfaces of the body of the holder. The force (or pressure) exerted on the body causes the opening to expand to receive the fiber. When the force is released, the opening contracts to grip or restrain the fiber within the opening. This technology enables fibers to be quickly, easily and accurately positioned within the holder so that the fiber core can be accurately interfaced with an active or passive optoelectronic element on a substrate. In certain embodiments, the holder is disposed above a top surface of a substrate without gripping the substrate. In other embodiments, the holder includes a substrate-receiving opening into which the substrate is inserted for holding the substrate. The substrate-receiving opening is actuated by exerting and releasing a force on an outer surface of the body of the holder. [0048] Related to the novel holder itself is an innovative method of holding an optical fiber in relation to a substrate or other such object. The method entails exerting a force on the holder to cause elastic deformation of the holder body, inserting one or more fiber (s) and then releasing the force to cause the holder to grip the fiber (s) . In certain embodiments, force is exerted on another portion of the holder to cause expansion of a second opening to thereby enable insertion of a substrate. When the force is released, the second opening contracts to hold the substrate. To remove the fiber and substrate, the forces are reapplied, thus expanding the openings whereupon the fiber and substrate can be removed.

[0049] Specific embodiments and implementations of the present invention will now be described below, by way of example, with reference to the attached drawings.

[0050] Still by way of overview, there are three main categories or sets of embodiments disclosed herein.

[0051] In the first set of embodiments, illustrated by FIGS. 1-10, the holder has a fiber-receiving opening extending through the body from a top surface to provide optical access to a plan emission/reception area disposed on the substrate. No substrate-receiving opening is required. The holder may have an underside adapted to be connected to or positioned above the top surface of the substrate.

[0052] In a second set of embodiments, illustrated by FIGS. 12-18, the holder includes both a fiber-receiving opening and a substrate-receiving opening. The holder is designed to interface with a plan emission/reception area located on the top surface of the substrate. Accordingly, the fiber- receiving opening defines a slot extending from a top surface of the holder into the substrate-receiving opening. [0053] In a third set of embodiments, illustrated by FIGS. 19-28, the holder also includes both a fiber-receiving opening and a substrate-receiving opening. The holder in this case is designed to interface with a side emission/reception area of a substrate. The fiber-receiving opening extends from a side surface into the substrate-receiving opening.

[0054] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an elastically deformable holder 14 for interfacing with a plan emission/reception area 5 of a substrate 1 in accordance with a first main category of embodiments of the present invention. An optical fiber 3 is held in a fiber-receiving opening extending through the body of the holder from a top surface of the body, as schematically depicted in this figure.

[0055] FIG. 2A presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder 14 in which the fiber is oriented orthogonally to the substrate. As shown, the holder 14 has a fiber-receiving opening 9 which includes a substantially cylindrical portion defining a fiber slot and an opening slit 10. The holder may include a deformation cavity 13, as shown by way of example in FIG. 2, that enables or facilitates deformation of the holder when a force or pressure 11 is exerted on a pressure application zone/area 11A of the body of the holder. The deformation cavity not only enables deformation of the holder but it also serves to limit deformation .

[0056] In a variant, as depicted in FIG. 2B, the elastically deformable holder may have a fiber-receiving opening that is obliquely oriented within the body. This enables the fiber to be oriented obliquely to the substrate, which is useful for certain applications where a slanted fiber is required for proper interfacing with the active or passive element on the optoelectronic device or substrate. [0057] FIG. 3 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder 14 showing a fiber 3 being inserted into an expanded fiber-receiving opening 9. As shown in this figure, the deformation cavity 13 facilitates deformation of the body under an application of force. This cavity 13 also limits the deformation of the body (as a function of the geometry of the gap defined by the cavity) . For greater clarity, FIG. 4 presents solid and semi- transparent side elevation views of the same holder illustrated in FIG. 3, again showing how the body deforms to expand, or widen, the fiber-receiving opening with the assistance of the deformation cavity 13. FIG. 4 also shows how the deformation of the body is limited, i.e. the body deforms until one side of the cavity contacts or abuts the other side of the cavity. For further clarity, FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the holder of FIG. 3, showing how the fiber- receiving opening expands 9. In certain embodiments, the geometry of the fiber-receiving opening may be designed such that the opening expands conically when a force is applied to the body of the holder.

[0058] In another embodiment, the holder may have multiple fiber-receiving openings for receiving multiple fibers in the same holder. Multiple fibers may be used to interface with different active elements on the same substrate, for example. These multiple fiber openings may be either independently (separately) actuated or jointly actuated (i.e. actuated in unison) .

[0059] Jointly actuated openings share a common opening slit and thus expand and contract in unison. FIG. 6 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of an elastically deformable holder in accordance with another embodiment in which the holder has three vertical fiber-receiving slots and a deformation cavity for enabling and then limiting deformation of the holder. As shown by way of example in FIG. 6, the three openings are jointly actuated so that these three openings expand and contract is unison. It should be understood that this three-fiber holder is merely an example and that variants of the holder may have a different number of fiber slots.

[0060] As shown by way of example in FIG. 7, the holder may have a dividing slit to enable independent actuation of the openings by exerting forces on the separated portions of the body. In this figure, the holder is shown with two vertical fiber-receiving slots and a deformation cavity for enabling and then limiting deformation of the holder. A single dividing slit separates the two fiber-receiving openings so that each of these openings can be separately actuated. In other words, one of the fiber openings can be expanded (and then contracted) independently of the other fiber opening so that fibers can be inserted sequentially into the holder. Multiple dividing slits may be present where there are three or more fiber slots, i.e. one dividing slit is disposed between each adjacent pair of fiber slots.

[0061] FIGS. 8-10 show various other embodiments of the holder in which multiple fiber openings (fiber slots) are provided in the same body. In these illustrated examples, the holder is made from an integral piece of material, e.g. a single integral piece of shape memory alloy or other equivalent material. It should also be appreciated that multiple-holder assemblies can be built using discrete single- connector holders as elementary components, or "building blocks", that are attached together.

[0062] As shown in FIG. 8, the multi-connector holder 17 includes two fiber-receiving slots 9, a central dividing slit for separately actuating the fiber-receiving openings 9, and a joint or common) deformation cavity (or "deformation augmenting/limiting cavity") 13 extending in an interior portion of the connector body. The fully internal deformation cavity can be cut using laser cutting techniques. Deformation cavities that extend to an outer surface of the body, as shown in FIG. 10, may be cut using conventional machining techniques. As shown in FIG. 9, the multi-connector holder includes two fiber-receiving slots, a central dividing slit for separately actuating the fiber-receiving openings, and two separate deformation augmenting/limiting cavities. As shown in FIG. 10, the multi-connector holder includes two fiber- receiving slots and two deformation cavities extending inwardly from opposite sides of the connector body.

[0063] FIG. 11 depicts an example of a multi-holder packaging that could be used, for example, on top of an integrated circuit. This figure illustrates how any arbitrary combination or arrangement of single-connector holders and/or multi-connector holders and/or multi-holder assemblies can be packaged together to interface with any particular configuration of active or passive elements (plan emission/reception areas 5) on a substrate or chip. For example, rather than manufacturing a specialized holder for a given chip configuration, the single-connector holders, multi- connector holders and/or multi-holder assemblies can be used as building blocking or elementary components to build up a packaging that is specially matched to the chip. As will be appreciated, it is not necessary that there be a one-to-one relationship between the holders in the packaging and the active elements of the substrate. Thus, one holder may interface with, or straddle, multiple active elements.

[0064] FIGS. 12-18 illustrate, by way of example, a second set or category of embodiments of this invention where the holder is designed to interface with a plan emission/reception area 5 disposed on a top surface of the substrate near a side or edge of the substrate. This general arrangement is best illustrated schematically in FIG. 12 where a fiber 3 is shown extending through the body of the holder 14 from a top surface to gain access to the substrate 1 held in the substrate- receiving opening 16. Thus, the main structural distinction in the holder as compared with the first category of embodiments described above is that the second category of embodiments includes the substrate-receiving opening 16 that can be actuated (expanded and then contracted) to receive and hold the substrate within the holder.

[0065] FIG. 13 presents solid and semi-transparent side elevation views of an elastically deformable holder 14 having a fiber receiving-opening 9 on a top surface of the holder, a substrate-receiving opening 16 for receiving a substrate 1 on a side of the holder 14, and respective deformation (13, 20) cavities for separately actuating the fiber-receiving opening and the substrate-receiving opening. The fiber-receiving opening is actuated by applying a pressure on pressure- application zone HA. The substrate-receiving opening is actuated by applying a pressure 12 on pressure-application zone 12A. FIG. 14 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of the holder of FIG. 13 while FIG. 15 presents solid and semi-transparent front elevation views of the holder of FIG. 13. In this embodiment, the deformation cavity 13 facilitates and limits deformation of the holder when the fiber-receiving opening (fiber slot) is expanded and contracted for insertion of an optical fiber. The deformation cavity 20 facilitates and limits deformation of the holder when the substrate-receiving opening 16 is expanded and contracted for insertion of the substrate. The fiber and substrate can thus be inserted independently of one another as their respective openings each has its own deformation cavity. FIG. 16A is a side view of the holder of FIG. 13 when the holder is deformed to expand the fiber-receiving opening. FIG. 16B is a side view of the holder of FIG. 13 in an original (resting) undeformed shape. FIG. 16C is a side view of the holder of FIG. 13 when the holder is deformed to expand the substrate-receiving opening.

[0066] FIG. 14B presents a variant of the holder of FIGS. 13 and 14. The variant depicted by way of example in FIG. 14B has an inverted semi-circular channel 24 machined from a front face 26 of the holder that extends inwardly into the body of the holder until this inverted semi-circular channel intersects the vertical fiber-receiving slot 9. This channel, which may have a different profile from what is shown in this particular example, provides optical access to the substrate, i.e. provides a space through which light propagates between the fiber and the substrate, or vice versa. In the illustrated embodiment shown in FIG. 14B, the inverted semicircular channel extends transversally through the deformation cavity 13. The variant of FIG. 14B can be manufactured using conventional machine tool technology.

[0067] The holders of the second category may also be made with multiple fiber openings. The multiple fiber-receiving openings (fiber slots) may be jointly actuated or independently actuated.

[0068] FIG. 17 depicts an example of a holder having two fiber-receiving slots separated by a dividing slit for separately actuating the slots (by exerting a force on respective portions of the holder associated with each slot) .

[0069] FIG. 18 depicts an example of a holder having three fiber-receiving slots that are actuated as a group (in unison) . [0070] FIGS. 19-28 illustrate, by way of example, a third set or category of embodiments of this invention where the holder 14 is designed to interface with a side emission/reception area 6 of the substrate or chip. As depicted schematically in FIG. 19, the elastically deformable holder 14 has a fiber- receiving opening extending through the body from a side surface of the holder for interfacing the fiber 3 with the side emission/reception area 6 of the substrate 1.

[0071] FIGS. 20 presents solid and semi-transparent side elevation views of a holder 14 having a substrate-receiving opening 16, a fiber-receiving opening 9, and a common deformation cavity (13, 20) for sequentially actuating the substrate-receiving opening and the fiber-receiving opening. For greater clarity, FIG. 21 presents solid and semi- transparent isometric views of the holder of FIG. 20 while FIG. 22 presents front and rear elevation views of the holder of FIG. 20.

[0072] Operation of this holder having the common deformation cavity is illustrated in FIGS. 23A-23C. FIG. 23A is a side view of the holder of FIG. 20 when the holder is deformed to expand the fiber-receiving opening. FIG. 23B is a side view of the holder of FIG. 20 in an original (resting) undeformed shape. FIG. 23C is a side view of the holder of FIG. 20 when the holder is deformed to expand the substrate-receiving opening. As shown in this figure, the common deformation cavity provides a gap that not only assists deformation of the body but also limits further deformation of the body once the body has been deformed by a predetermined amount, i.e. when one side of the cavity contacts or abuts the other side of the cavity. This holder enables a fiber and a substrate to be inserted sequentially. [0073] The holders of this third category may also be made with multiple fiber-holding openings (e.g. FIG. 24 or FIG. 25) or even with multiple substrate-receiving openings (e.g. FIG. 26) . FIG. 24 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder wherein the holder has two fiber-receiving slots separated by a dividing slit for separately actuating the fiber-receiving openings. FIG. 25 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder in which the holder has three fiber- receiving slots sharing a common opening slit for joint actuation of the three (grouped) fiber-receiving slots. FIG. 26 presents solid and semi-transparent isometric views of a multi-connector holder having two independently actuated fiber-receiving slots as well as two independently actuated substrate-receiving openings. Two deformation cavities are provided in this particular embodiment for independently actuating any of the openings.

[0074] It should be appreciated that these variations are presented solely as examples to illustrate how the basic concepts presented herein may be easily adapted for specific arrangements or configurations. Therefore, it should be understood that the number of fiber slots may be varied as well as the number of substrate-receiving openings, and that any combinations of dividing slits, deformation cavities or other features disclosed herein may be provided in a holder or holder assembly.

[0075] Furthermore, the holders disclosed herein may be utilized together, not only in an assembly of holders, but also as discrete components that hold the same substrate. This is illustrated by way of example in FIG. 27 and FIG. 28 where a single substrate is held by two different holders. In this example, the holders are holding the substrate from opposite sides. However, it should be appreciated that multiple holders may be used to hold one or more substrate in any other conceivable manner. As shown in FIG. 27, two multi-connector holders can be used to hold a common substrate from opposite sides in respective substrate-receiving openings. In this example, each holder has three fiber- receiving slots arranged vertically. As also shown by way of example in FIG. 28, two three-connector holders are used to hold a common substrate from opposite sides in respective substrate-receiving openings. In this example, each holder has three fiber-receiving slots arranged horizontally.

[0076] For the foregoing holders, it should be understood that the dimensions and tolerances of the openings may be designed by taking into account the modulus of elasticity of the material used for the holder body to ensure that the fibers and substrates (which may be delicate) are firmly but lightly held so as to avoid distorting, crushing or damaging these objects.

[0077] The holder body should be made of a highly elastic material that is capable of being easily deformed and whose elasticity is high enough to return to its original, undeformed shape when the force or pressure is released from the connector body. In main implementations, a shape memory alloy is used for the connector body since shape memory alloys exhibit unusually high elasticity and are thus perfectly suited for this application. A copper-aluminum shape memory alloy has been found to provide excellent results. However, as will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art who have had the benefit of reading this disclosure, other functionally equivalent shape memory alloys or shape memory materials can also be used. Indeed, any highly elastic material that has an elasticity comparable to the copper- aluminum alloy could be utilized to provide similar results. [0078] The various embodiments of the innovative holder disclosed herein furthermore enable a novel method of holding an optical fiber for interfacing with a substrate. This novel method involves (i) providing an elastically deformable holder having a body made of an elastically deformable material that deforms elastically in response to an application of force, (ii) exerting a force on the body of the holder to cause a fiber-receiving opening in the body to expand, (iii) inserting the optical fiber into the fiber-receiving opening, (iv) releasing the force to cause the fiber-receiving opening to contract, thereby restraining the fiber in the holder, and (v) positioning the substrate relative to the fiber.

[0079] In one implementation of this method, positioning the substrate comprises positioning an underside of the body relative to the substrate. Alternatively, positioning the substrate relative to the fiber comprises exerting force on a different portion of the holder to cause the holder to deform elastically, thereby causing a substrate-receiving opening in the body of the holder to expand, inserting the substrate into the substrate-receiving opening, and releasing the force to cause the substrate-receiving opening to restrain the substrate in the holder.

[0080] While the primary application of this novel technology is for holding an optical fiber in precise relation to an optoelectronic element on a substrate, it should be appreciated that the various embodiments of this holder and the related methods described herein can have other applications, i.e. the holder can be used to hold other objects, e.g. microfluidic cables or microtubes, and to situate these objects relative to one another in a quick, accurate and reproducible manner. For example, this holder can be adapted to hold microfluidic cables or microtubes to form connections with other components in a microfluidic system. This novel holder may be applied to other technical domains as well.

[0081] The elastically deformable holder disclosed herein can be used synergistically in combination or conjunction with other fiber-connecting technologies such as, for example, those disclosed in U.S. Patent 7,490,995 or in PCT publications WO 2003/071328, WO 2004/015473, WO 2005/040876, and WO 2008/151445.

[0082] The present invention has been described in terms of specific embodiments, examples, implementations and configurations which are intended to be exemplary or illustrative only. Other variants, modifications, refinements and applications of this innovative technology will become readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art who have had the benefit of reading this disclosure. Such variants, modifications, refinements and applications fall within the ambit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the scope of the exclusive right sought by the Applicant for the present invention is intended to be limited solely by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.