What Is Optical Fiber Technology, and How Does It Work?


What Is Optical Fiber Technology?

Fiber optics, or optical fibers, are long, thin strands of carefully drawn glass about the diameter of a human hair. These strands are arranged in bundles called optical cables. We rely on them to transmit light signals over long distances.

At the transmitting source, the light signals are encoded with data… the same data you see on the screen of a computer. So, the optical fiber transmits “data” by light to a receiving end, where the light signal is decoded as data. Therefore, fiber optics is actually a transmission medium – a “pipe” to carry signals over long distances at very high speeds.

Fiber optic cables were originally developed in the 1950s for endoscopes. The purpose was to help doctors view the inside of a human patient without major surgery. In the 1960s, telephone engineers found a way to use the same technology to transmit and receive telephone calls at the “speed of light”. That is about 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum, but slows to about two-thirds of this speed in a cable.

How Do Fiber Optics Work?

Light travels down a fiber optic cable by bouncing off the walls of the cable repeatedly. Each light particle (photon) bounces down the pipe with continued internal mirror-like reflection.

The light beam travels down the of the cable. The core is the middle of the core cable and the glass structure. The   cladding is another layer of glass wrapped around the core. Cladding is there to keep the light signals inside the core.