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We have experimentally demonstrated the applicability of optical fiber tapers at 1.3 μm as a simple and practical means of achieving beam expansion in a self-aligned unitary structure. These devices have a standard 8.1-μm core at one end which gradually increases in cross section to the order of 100 μm at the other end. Tapers are envisioned as basic building blocks in a multitude of single-mode optical components. Experiments performed on a batch of eight tapers verified, to experimental accuracy, that no significant amount of mode conversion or beam distortion takes places in the taper. The insertion loss of the taper was found to be under 0.1 dB. The sensitivity of the excess loss between two tapers to lateral and axial displacement is greatly reduced as compared to that between two single-mode fibers. For example, the 0.5-dB loss point of taper coupling corresponds to a 10-μm lateral displacement and a 700-μm axial displacement versus respective 1.6-μm and 36.5-μm displacements for fiber coupling. The increased sensitivity to angular displacement is within practical limits.