An Overview of Fiber Optics
What exactly is a Fiber Optic Cable?
Definition: A fiber optic cable transmits light through the core of a fiber optical cable by bouncing this light off the walls of the cladding. Using the principle of total internal reflection, the fiber acts as a light waveguide. The reason these signals can travel great distances with only little loss is because the cladding does not absorb the light from the core. Fiber optic cable uses a single path called single-mode fiber, or multiple paths called multi-mode fiber.
So where did it come from?
Believe it or not, the idea of guiding light by refraction to transmit data is not as new a thought as you might think. The idea for fiber optics actually started with scientists as early as the mid 1840s. After much thought, testing and realization that most of the impurities had to be removed from the glass for mass data transmission - fiber optics began to really gain a hold in telecommunications during the 1970's. Fiber optic cable had finally arrived.
I've heard about all this history, but how did they do it?
After many early trial and error projects in the later 70's, fiber finally got a break about a decade later when the transatlantic telephone cable went into operation. Today the use of fiber optic cable is used in virtually every mass data transmission over long distances, and this webpage was originally only made possible via fiber optics. Fiber Optic Cable today is made solely by two dielectric layers; A jacket and a cladding. These dielectrics protect the 'core' from any data and light loss as it travels through a tight buffer coating.
Ok, but why Fiber Optics?
The advantages of Fiber Optics over standard copper applications are numerous. The major underlying advantage of fiber over copper in signal transmission is bandwidth. The advantage is so great, that if you wanted to replace a single high-bandwidth fiber optic cable - you would need to replace it with thousands of metal copper wires.
Another major advantage of fiber optics is low signal loss, which means the cable is allowed to run great distances without the need for an active component. If fact, as opposed to a copper wire that can run about a mile between terminations, fiber can run over 55 miles with being processed of boosted.
Other advantages of fiber include immunity in high interface areas or electromagnetic pulses, it is lighter than metal based wires and is ideal in flammable areas since fiber cannot spark.
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