As popular as WiFi and wireless technology are today, fiber optics still remain the tried and true bedrock infrastructure of our digital world. Their ability to carry massive amounts of data at staggering speeds represents just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the importance of fiber optics and the way they help interconnect the world.
While you’ve likely heard the term “Fiber Optics” before chances are, you might not completely understand their strengths and benefits. So, we decided to take a little bit deeper look into the world of fiber optics and the critical role it plays in modern information technology.
The History Of Fiber Optics
You might be surprised to hear that the modern notion of fiber optics has roots that can be traced back to the 1920s when John Logie Baird patented the idea of using arrays of transparent rods to transmit images for the burgeoning new technology that would come to be known as television. Though it was in the 1970s when Morton Panish and Izumo Hayashi of Bell Laboratories, along with a group from the Ioffe Physical Institute in Leningrad, demonstrated that fiber optics could be used to carry encoded information at staggeringly fast speeds.
By the 1980s fiber optics were the vanguard in telephone communication. In the 1990s the use of photonic crystals proved that an all-optic system could carry 100 times more information than cable with electronic amplifiers. With the advent of the internet and its presence in most modern homes, fiber optic technology started serving as the proverbial veins that connected the world.
The Benefits Of Fiber Optics
Modern fiber optics uses a principle known as “Total Internal Reflection to transmit enormous amounts of data at a rate approaching the speed of light. Physically, fiber optic cable is created from two special layers of glass known as the “Core” and the “Cladding.”
The Core Of Fiber Optics
As the name implies, the Core of fiber optics is at the center of the optical cable. It is responsible for carrying the actual light signal. Its composition has a higher refractive index, which empowers it to move an astonishing amount of data much faster than outdated cable wiring.
Fiber Optic Cladding
Fiber Optic cladding is a special layer of a glass surrounding the core. It has a somewhat lower refractive index than the core. This means it also helps improve the total internal reflection rate within the core as well.
Fiber Optic Cable Works In Tandem
Most fiber optic cables work in tandem as duplex pairs. The first fiber is used to transmit information and then the other fiber is used to receive information. Though its fiber optics can be configured so that it’s possible to send both signals over a single strand.
The Different Types Of Fiber Optic Cables
There are two primary types of fiber optic cables. Each has its preferred applications depending on how it is being used. They are Single-Mode Fiber optic cabling and Multi-Mode Fiber optic cabling.
Also known as SMF, Single-Mode Fiber optic cabling has a very narrow core layer. This allows only a single mode of light to propagate the information. This makes it better for transmitting information over great distances.
More commonly known as MMF, Multi-mode fiber optic cabling has a much wider core, which allows for multiple modes, known as “Rays” of light, to propagate information from one point to the next. MMF has a higher attenuation via dispersion. This makes MMFs more suitable for short-distance fiber optic transmission. MMF can potentially reach speeds of up to 100Gbit/sec data.
What Are The Benefits Of Fiber Optic Cable?
Fiber optic cabling has nearly unlimited practical information capabilities. This includes a high data-carrying capacity, with a very low transmission loss rate of <0.2dB/km, cf1dB/km microwave, 10db/km twisted copper pair.
Another great benefit of fiber optic cabling is that the cables do not dissipate heat, while also being completely immune to the kind of “Cross-Talk” and other types of electromagnetic interference that can be a significant problem with other types of structured cabling.
Where Are Fiber Optics Used Most?
Fiber optic-supported networks can be found all over the world. They are the backbone of most modern-day networks and are even used to send data along the ocean floor. With that in mind, there are some sectors and industries where you see fiber optic cabling play an even more predominant role.
Fiber Optics In The Medical Industry
Their ability to transmit light and data also means that you can find optical fibers being used in a wide range of medical procedures. In these applications, the fiber optic cables can be made in flexible strands that are extremely thin. This makes them ideal for insertion into the lungs, blood vessels, and many hollow parts of the body. They make it possible for surgeons and diagnostic specialists to observe internal body parts. Sometimes without needing to perform any type of invasive surgery.
Fiber Optics In The Telecommunication Industry
Optic Fibers have long been used for receiving and transmitting a large amount of data in a short amount of time. They are still the primary type of cabling used in the landline telephone industry. In this application, the fibers transmit energy in the form of light pulses far more efficiently than coaxial cable.
Fiber Optic Networking
Fiber optics are the standard for connecting servers and users in a variety of network applications and structured cabling. They also help in increasing the accuracy and speed of data transmission, which makes them a stalwart component of modern-day data centers.
Fiber Optics In The Industrial & Commercial Sectors
Fiber optic technology is often used for imaging areas, and connecting sensory devices, as well as thermostats. They are used in Broadcast/CATV Cable companies that use fiber optic cables for wiring HDTV, CATV, as well as video-on-demand services. Fiber optic cables are also used for imaging and lighting and as sensors to monitor and measure a vast array of variables
Fiber Optic Data Storage
Fiber optic cables are used for data storage in state-of-the-art data centers as well as transmitting massive amounts of data. You also find fiber optic cables being used in development, research, and testing across a wide range of data storage applications.