optical fiber

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optical fiber

[′äp·tə·kəl ′fī·bər]
A long, thin thread of fused silica, or other transparent substance, used to transmit light. Also known as light guide.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

optical fiber

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optical fiber

A thin strand of glass designed for light transmission. A single hair-thin optical 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.)
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References in periodicals archive ?
(b) Normalized electric field (up row) and charge distributions (bottom row) for illumination at [lambda] = 850 nm (left) and [lambda] = 1300 nm (right).
The observation of a strong extended harmonic plateau in the case of the 1300 nm probe radiation also suggests the involvement of clusters in the HHG process with MIR pulses.
No yield phenomena were observed and there was little change in dynamic moduli when particle size increased from 315 nm to 1300 nm. Particle size effects on the rheology of filled polymers were much less pronounced for PMMA filler, which contrasts to the behavior of PS particle filled systems.
The 1300 nm and 1530 nm traffic is received at the network port and separated by the wavelength duplexer.
The optical properties of each layer in the human head model for the near infrared light of wavelengths of 690 nm, 800 nm and 1300 nm are shown in Table 1.
It can use either of two wavelengths--830 nanometers (near-IR) or 1300 nm (between NIR and IR)--to take up to 4000 measurements a second Rapid refocusing gives it a working range of 2 to 22 mm, allowing it to measure even a rapidly fluttering bubble, Isis says.
Ports C and D are 1300 nm, 100 Mbps, SC duplex multimode fiber-optic ports.
The M300 Series provides a transmission distance of up to 7 km at 1300 nm for large installations that may involve multiple buildings and/or long cable runs.
"Anadigics is a major supplier of integrated photodetectors and transimpedance amplifiers for use in small form factor datacom modules for both 850 nm and 1300 nm systems," said Phil Wallace, vice president of Fiber Communication Products at Anadigics, Inc.
The near-infrared LEDs (Oriel Instrument and OptoDiode) emit 1-3 mW of light centered on 820, 1000, 1220, and 1300 nm, with 25-40 nm full width at half maximum.
The chosen optical fiber was a multimode step index fiber with a core diameter of 183 [mu]m, a clad diameter of 220 [mu]m, a metalization diameter of 275 [mu]m, tensile strength of 20,000 lbs/[in.sup.2], numerical aperture of 0.23, wavelengths of 850 and 1300 nm and an uncharacterized attenuation.
The unit provides a stable temperature compensated LED 850 nm or 1300 nm light supply.