What is

Optical fiber - Explanation and definition of optical fiber

What is optical fiber?

Optical fiber is a filament of glass or flexible plastic with a thinner less than a human hair used to transmit light from one to another point regardless of the geometry there exist during its travel. Optical fiber is the technology resulting from joining the knowledge of the properties of light and glass in order to be able to send and transmit pulses of light over long distances at speeds of close to 200,000 km per second, this kind of technology it is widely used in the sector telecommunications.

Optical fiber bases its operation on the refraction and reflection properties that has light when passing through a medium, in this sense the optical fiber is constructed in order that the light pulse is sent reflecte fully throughout the filament to get transmit without losses caused by refraction, it's like if we shot a steel bulle from the extreme of a pipe and it was able to bounce along all the way to reach the other end.

Optical fiber's can resemble a copper cable in which instead of electricity light is transmitted, ie it is a light cable, unlike traditional power lines light does not interact in the presence of disturbances of electromagnetic origin such as storms, solar flares or deliberate presence of a medium that comes into interference, this makes the light emitter of high quality information, on the other hand the high capacity and speed of transmission close to the speed of light do the optical fiber the ideal way to send large amounts of high-quality information in a few milliseconds.

The light pulses sent over the optical fiber can be used as illumination means or transmission medium or binary digital information, the presence of a pulse represents 1 and the absence 0, then an optical receiver collects signals light and transforms information in the format chosen as images, audio, video or data.

The optical fiber consists of 3 basis elements:

  • Core - Means by which light travels.

  • Cladding - Middle wall and makes light pulse prevents the escape.

  • Coating - Media cable protection.

The core is the medium by which the light bounces and travels along the entire cable, to prevent that light escape and is in continuous total reflection there is a cladding that makes a wall to the core of the fiber, both core and cladding are glasses with different composition where glass of the cladding possesses an index less than the refractive core glass in order to catch the light pulse that has been passed with a certain pitch.

Finally there are one or more layers of different coating materials as metal , ceramic or polymeric that act as optical cable protective means against possible shocks, efforts exposure to high or low temperatures, corrosive environments for glass, etc ...

On the other hand it is necessary to use converters, light emitters and receivers for the fiber optic system to send and transmit information. In principle converter can transform the digital signal or initial power on light pulses which are generally emitted from LEDs or lasers that emit light with a predefined angle so that bouncing or reflecte fully throughout the fiber. Subsequently, a silicon or germanium receiver captures the light signal at the other end of the fiber and converted back into the original digital signal or electricity.

Applications of the optical fiber

As described above these glass cables leverage the properties of light to transmit high-quality data in large quantities and at high speeds and also illuminating areas with difficult access, therefore today the use of optical fibers expands on a wide range of fields such as medicine, telecommunications, military and even archeology.

The first applications of optical fiber were intended for medical sector taking advantage of the ability of light and flexibility possessed this technology were used for the exploration of the stomach, replacing the old and rigid endoscopes by modern and comfortable fiberscopes that light and transmit scanning video format. The use of fiberscopes quickly expanded to other sectors such as archeology through which they could see through complicated mazes of rocks and impossible areas to access the other side without down the walls, in the industrial sector industrial is used as a means of inspection pipes, coils, assemblies of difficult access, etc ... In the near future telemedicine and fiber optics allow handled by specialists robots can operate on patients located at long distances.

Telecommunications sector has been found in the ideal fiber optic technology to send and transmit any signal, its applications in telephony, Internet, local networks, television and radio has improved the quality of services offered.

Internet applications has enabled many companies in the sector will side with this technology as a means of access to the Internet, the number of transmissions of the order of Gigabits per second currently achievable, to get an idea with this type of connection you can download all information contained in Wikipedia in just 5 seconds, or the equivalent of 10 movies in HD.

In the telephone sector optical fiber has improved the quality of telephone communications hearing eliminating existing interference and noise with classic electric cables, on the other hand the security of this technology against theft or wiretaps make an appropriate use the military telecommunications sector.

In the audiovisual sector, this technology has brought into our homes the ultra high definition television offering a variety of services such as an almost unlimited number of TV channels, movies and online games, participation in social networks ... on a single fiber Optical connected to our television.

In the near future this technology will be the basis for the operation of so-called Internet of things in which any electronic component is connected to the Internet to facilitate our daily lives. Can you imagine that your refrigerator would make the online purchase when detected that some food from the fridge is missing or expired?.

optical fiber