Saturday, January 1, 2011

Basics of Optical Fibers

    A fiber-optic system is similar to the copper wire system that fiber-optics is replacing. The difference is that fiber-optics use light pulses to transmit information down fiber lines instead of using electronic pulses to transmit information down copper lines. Looking at the components in a fiber-optic chain will give a better understanding of how the system works in conjunction with wire based systems.

    At one end of the system is a transmitter. This is the place of origin for information coming on to fiber-optic lines. The transmitter accepts coded electronic pulse information coming from copper wire. It then processes and translates that information into equivalently coded light pulses. A light-emitting diode (LED) or an injection-laser diode (ILD) can be used for generating the light pulses. Using a lens, the light pulses are funneled into the fiber-optic medium where they travel down the cable. The light (near infrared) is most often 850nm for shorter distances and 1,300nm for longer distances on Multi-mode fiber and 1300nm for single-mode fiber and 1,500nm is used for for longer distances.

Benefits of Optical Fiber :-  

SPEED: Fiber optic networks operate at high speeds - up into the gigabits
BANDWIDTH: large carrying capacity
DISTANCE: Signals can be transmitted further without needing to be "refreshed" or strengthened.
RESISTANCE: Greater resistance to electromagnetic noise such as radios, motors or other nearby cables.
MAINTENANCE: Fiber optic cables costs much less to maintain.

    Think of a fiber cable in terms of very long cardboard roll (from the inside roll of paper towel) that is coated with a mirror on the inside. If you shine a flashlight in one end you can see light come out at the far end - even if it's been bent around a corner.  

   There are three types of fiber optic cable commonly used: single mode, multimode and plastic optical fiber (POF).

Single Mode cable is a single stand (most applications use 2 fibers) of glass fiber with a diameter of 8.3 to 10 microns that has one mode of transmission.  Single Mode Fiber with a relatively narrow diameter, through which only one mode will propagate typically 1310 or 1550nm. Carries higher bandwidth than multimode fiber, but requires a light source with a narrow spectral width. Synonyms mono-mode optical fiber, single-mode fiber, single-mode optical waveguide, uni-mode fiber. 

Multi-Mode cable has a little bit bigger diameter, with a common diameters in the 50-to-100 micron range for the light carry component (in the US the most common size is 62.5um). Most applications in which Multi-mode fiber is used, 2 fibers are used (WDM is not normally used on multi-mode fiber).  POF is a newer plastic-based cable which promises performance similar to glass cable on very short runs, but at a lower cost. 



Anonymous said...

Thank you

Kyle Miller - JEM Electronics said...

Very interesting, for more Fiber Optic information visit

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