For years, scientists have been looking for different techniques to make glasses perfect: fully amorphous and ideally homogeneous. Meanwhile, recent advances in the development of particle-containing glasses (PCG), defined in this paper as glass-ceramics, glasses doped with metallic nanoparticles, and phase-separated glasses show that these “imperfect” glasses can result in better optical materials if particles of desired chemistry, size, and shape are present in the glass. It has been shown that PCGs can be used for the fabrication of nanostructured fibers—a novel class of media for fiber optics. These unique optical fibers are able to outperform their traditional glass counterparts in terms of available emission spectral range, quantum efficiency, non-linear properties, fabricated sensors sensitivity, and other parameters. Being rather special, nanostructured fibers require new, unconventional solutions on the materials used, fabrication, and characterization techniques, limiting the use of these novel materials. This work overviews practical aspects and progress in the fabrication and characterization methods of the particle-containing glasses with particular attention to nanostructured fibers made of these materials. A review of the recent achievements shows that current technologies allow producing high-optical quality PCG-fibers of different types, and the unique optical properties of these nanostructured fibers make them prospective for applications in lasers, optical communications, medicine, lighting, and other areas of science and industry.
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