What are Fiber Optics?
Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Fiber optics is a technology that uses optically-pure glass or plastic fibers, as thin as a human hair, to transmit digital data coded into light signals. Modern fiber optic cables, made up of hundreds or thousands of these flexible fibers, are capable of transmitting high-speed data over long distances. They are used in a wide variety of applications that include internet, voice, and video transmission, and are frequently used in network communications for building automation and security systems.
An optical fiber consists of an individual glass core surrounded by cladding layer of material, usually acrylate polymer, that reflects light back into the core, allowing signals to travel along the fiber. A buffer coating is added to protect the fiber from moisture and damage. These fibers are bundled and surrounded by several layers of protective sheathing to form a fiber optic cable. A fiber optic relay system consists of a transmitter, which produces and encodes the light signals, the optical cable, and an optical receiver, which decodes the signals. An optical regenerator may be necessary to boost signals over long distances.
Optical cable offers numerous advantages over traditional copper cable. It provides greater bandwidth, travels at higher speeds over greater distances, and is extremely secure. Unlike copper, it is nearly impossible to tap, does not radiate signals, and splices are easily detected. Fiber optic cable is highly resistant to electromagnetic interference, making transmissions virtually noise-free. It is lightweight, thinner and more durable than traditional cable, can be submerged in water, and is less susceptible to temperature extremes. Optical cable costs continue to drop rapidly, and fiber optics provide greater value in the long run.
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