Though the advent of fiber optics made high-speed data transfer much easier, not many people out there can actually boast of knowing what it is all about.
The clarity of images and sounds that this technology promises, gives it a definite edge over the conventional technology, which uses copper wires to transfer data. Add to it the fact that there is seldom any distortion in the quality of these images and sounds, and the deal gets even better.
In simple terms, it's a technology wherein glass or plastic threads (fibers) are used for data transmission. Their width is as much as the diameter of a human hair. Thousands of optical fibers are bundled together to form fiber optic cables, which are used in various fields.
These fibers are bundled in such a manner that there is absolutely no scope for the light to escape and therefore, the end result is transmission of crystal clear images of superior quality.
Each optical fiber has three parts: the core, cladding, and the buffer coating. The center of the glass strand, wherein the light travels, is known as the 'core'. The 'cladding' is the material around the core, which reflects the light back into the core region. To avoid any damage, these components are protected by a plastic coating called 'buffer coating'.
Basically, there are two main types of cables: single-mode fiber optic cable and multiple-mode fiber optic cable. Single-mode cables have a smaller core as compared to their multiple-mode counterparts.
Similarly, single-mode fiber optics transmit infrared laser light with a wavelength of 1,300 to 1,550 nanometers, while multiple-mode fiber optics transmit infrared light with a wavelength of 850 to 1,300 nanometers. There exists yet another type, the plastic optical fiber. That, however, is not as popular as these two types.
How do it Work?
A transmitter and receiver are located at either ends of the fiber optics network. The transmitter facilitates data transfer by converting the electronic signals into data impulses. The receiver, located on the other end, receives these data impulses and converts it back to electronic signals.
These decoded signals are eventually sent to various electronic devices, including television and computer. Considering that the light cannot bend itself on its own, fiber optic technology uses a technique known as total internal reflection, wherein light impulses bounce on the inner walls of the fiber and facilitate smooth data transfer.
What is it Used For?
Today, the technology is used in various fields right from communication to engineering. The most important uses of fiber optics can be traced to the various means of networking and telecommunication. In present times, wherein the word technology is no alien term, not many people would need an introduction to fiber optics Internet or cable TV.
Improved quality of digital transmission, which can be attributed to the use of fiber optics, has been most beneficial for the Internet revolution. The use of fiber optics in cable television can be traced back to 1976.
Other than these uses, the technology is also used for imaging in the field of medicine. Similarly, the use of this technology for interior decoration in the form of fiber optic lamps is also gaining popularity.
The numerous advantages that the fiber optics technology has over its conventional counterpart gives it an edge when it comes to performance. It provides a greater bandwidth, owing to which more data can be transferred at a given point of time. Similarly, these cables are thinner and lighter, which makes it convenient to use them.
The only disadvantage is the hefty initial investment for optical fiber installation. If this problem can be resolved, high-speed data transfer using fiber optics will become even more faster, inexpensive, and reliable.