optical fiber

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optical fiber

[′äp·tə·kəl ′fī·bər]
(optics)
A long, thin thread of fused silica, or other transparent substance, used to transmit light. Also known as light guide.

optical fiber

optical fiber

A thin glass strand designed for light transmission. A single hair-thin fiber is capable of transmitting trillions of bits per second. In addition to their huge transmission capacity, optical fibers offer many advantages over electricity and copper wire. Light pulses are not affected by random radiation in the environment, and their error rate is significantly lower. Fibers allow longer distances to be spanned before the signal has to be regenerated by expensive "repeaters." Fibers are more secure, because taps in the line can be detected, and lastly, fiber installation is streamlined due to its dramatically lower weight and smaller size compared to copper cables.

Starting in the 1970s
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, telephone companies began to use fibers extensively to rebuild their communications infrastructure. According to KMI Corporation, specialists in fiber optic market research, by the end of 1990 there were approximately eight million miles of fiber laid in the U.S. (this is miles of fiber, not miles of cable which can contain many fibers). By the end of 2000, there were 80 million miles in the U.S. and 225 million worldwide. Fiber is also used to replace copper cable for LAN backbones.

Pure Glass
An optical fiber is constructed of a transparent core made of nearly pure silicon dioxide (SiO2), through which the light travels. The core is surrounded by a cladding layer that reflects light, guiding the light along the core. A plastic coating covers the cladding to protect the glass surface. Cables also include fibers of Kevlar and/or steel wires for strength and an outer sheath of plastic or Teflon for protection.

Enormous Bandwidth
For glass fibers, there are two "optical windows" where the fiber is most transparent and efficient. The centers of these windows are 1300 nm and 1550 nm, providing approximately 18,000 GHz and 12,000 GHz respectively, for a total of 30,000 GHz. This enormous bandwidth is potentially usable in one fiber. The only limitation is the electronic circuits that modulate the light waves to represent the data. Electronic ciruits have yet to come close to the frequencies of light.

Singlemode and Multimode
There are two types of glass fiber. For intercity cabling and highest speed, singlemode fiber with a core diameter of less than 10 microns is used. Multimode fiber is very common for short distances and has a core diameter from 50 to 100 microns.

Plastic Fiber Too
For short-distance runs such as within buildings, plastic fiber is also used, and their transparent windows are typically 650 nm or within the 750-900 nm range. Plastic optical fiber (POF) is easier to install than glass but requires repeaters for distances greater than 100 meters. See laser, WDM, fiber optics glossary and cable categories.


Fiber Strands
The fibers in this picture are being prepared for splicing in a wiring closet. These few strands can collectively transmit trillions of bits per second. (Image courtesy of Corning Incorporated.)







Fiber Vs. Copper
Not only does optical fiber offer enormous bandwidth, but it takes a lot less room. Any one of these copper bundles can be replaced with one fiber strand (center). (Image courtesy of Corning Incorporated.)







Fiber-Optic Cable
This Lucent fiber-optic cable holds 288 fibers, which was a record-high fiber count in 1996. Cables with more than a thousand fibers have since been developed.








Laying Optical Fiber
Embedding thousands of miles of fiber in the ground has been a Herculean feat undertaken by many companies. In time, all copper wires are expected to give way to fiber. (Image courtesy of Metromedia Fiber Network.)
References in periodicals archive ?
For large PMMA particles of 750 and 1300 nm size, the fraction of the interphase is very small.
The potential impact of the off-axis illumination on the pressure dependence of the modulation ratios was assessed empirically by repeating the measurements with permuted azimuthal locations of the LEDs and with the finger pointed alternately toward the 1220 or 1300 nm LED positions indicated in the rightmost section of the lower panel of Fig.
The 1300 nm and 1530 nm traffic is received at the network port and separated by the wavelength duplexer.
5 km at 850 nm; the 33 Series offers a maximum transmission distance of 7 km at 1300 nm; and the 33S Series can transmit signals as far as 20 km at 1300 nm using single-mode fiber optics.
Their natural lasing wavelengths cover the spectral window from 1100 nm to 1300 nm, which is outside the range of conventional semiconductor laser technology.
Insertion loss shall be tested at 850 nm or 1300 nm for 50/125?
We describe the results of a comparison of reference standards between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST-USA) and Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB-Germany) at nominal wavelengths of 1300 nm and 1550 nm using an optical-fiber cable.
5/125[micro]m or 50/125 [micro]m Multimode: 1300 nm (nonstandard) Single-mode: 1300 nm: 8/125[micro]m (nonstandard) 100Base-TX 100 Category 5 UTP 100Base-FX 100 Multimode: 1300 nm; 62.
The HFCT-5912E 1300 nm Fabry-Perot laser version for 1000Base-LX permits single-mode fiber links of up to 10 km.
In contrast, the comb lasers we tested from Innolume show eye diagrams for each line comparable to the best single-frequency ECL lasers, thus opening great opportunities for efficient 1300 nm WDM communication systems based on a single laser," said Dr.
o excitation and acquisition should be possible at wavelengths between about 450 and 1300 nm.