High Speed Fiber Optics Communication

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Although glass was drawn into thin strands long ago in Roman Times, the real milestone achieved in fiber optical transmission was not until 1870 when John Tyndall showed that how light travelled through water; his experiment showed that light used internal reflection to travel in a zigzag manner. Then in 1880 Alexander Graham Bell developed photophone; an optical voice transmission system that used “free-space light” to transmit voice up to a range of 200 meters. Since then, the fiber optics technology has been developing rapidly.
Optical Fiber Cable
Fiber optics is basically threads of flexible glass which are as thin as human hair. These strands use light to carry digital signals. When thousands of such fiber optic strands are arranged in bundles, they make fiber optic cables which are being used extensively in telecommunication today. These cables have three essential parts; the core, cladding and coating. The core, or the center of the fiber, transmits the light. Cladding is used to create a mirror lined wall which ensures that the light does not leave the fiber. Coating is done to protect the fiber optic cable and is made from UV protective acrylate.

There are two types of fiber optic cables; the single mode and the multi-mode. Single mode are thinner than multi-mode and use Laser beam to carry signals, while the multi-mode, much thicker, use light emitting diodes to transmit the digital signals. Single mode cables carry one mode of light and for this reason they are able to transmit data further and at higher speeds. These are usually used by telecommunication companies and universities where higher speeds and higher bandwidths are required. Multi-mode cables are able to carry more than one mode of light and so they can transfer more data at a given time. These are used in LANs where short distance data transfer is needed.

Network Cable & Global Fiber OpticThe principle of total internal reflection on which the fiber optic transmission is based is fairly simple; when light enters the glass cable it is reflected at the corners so that it bounces off internally and keeps on bouncing back until it reaches the end of the cable. The entire system consists of a transmitter; used to generate the signal that travels through the fiber optics, optical regenerator; this strengthens the weak signals, and a receiver; it encodes the signals into readable form.

Optical fibers have completely replaced the conventional copper wire telecommunication system for many reasons. The optical fibers have more capacity and can carry larger data through longer distances without weakening the signals. The throughput capacity or the data carried per unit time by fiber optics is much greater than any copper wire system. Moreover, since light is the fastest thing we know, the data transferred via light travels faster than any other medium. If a conventional system carries 3000 telephone calls at once, this numbers increases to 31,000 if fiber optics system is in use.

Another important benefit optical fibers deliver is the security of data during transmission. The coaxial wires are prone to electromagnetic interference as well as radio frequency interference and if they are shielded against these, they become less effective. On the other hand, optical fibers are immune to both the interferences and are very secure means of transferring any sensitive data too.

In addition to this, fiber optics consumes less power and is non-flammable too. Further, unlike metal wires which contract in cold weather and expand in hot weather, the fiber optics are not hindered by temperature changes.
Fiber Optics & Eye TechnologyBecause of these advantages optical fibers have several applications. The most important use of fiber optics is in telecommunication; whether it is telephone, internet or cable television, data is transferred using fiber optics. Since optical fibers carry digital signals, their ideal use is in internet data transmission. Apart from telecommunication, these glass strands are also used in medical imaging where doctors use optical fibers to enlarge areas in human body which are hard to see with naked eye. Similarly, fiber optics are also applied to mechanical inspection and sewer lines inspection.

Fiber optics is continuously being improved and evolved; better quality of glass and enhanced wavelength multiplexing are some of the developments technological world is looking forward to. With this, application scope of optical fibers will also increase.

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