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What Is Fiber Optics?

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We've been using copper wiring for over a hundred and fifty years, and it's no surprise that people are trying to find faster and more efficient ways of transmitting data, especially over long distances. One of the best competition for the outdated copper wires present in Ethernet, coaxial cables, and phone lines, is the fiber optic network.

What exactly is fiber optics and how does it work? Fiber optics utilize the idea that light in a glass medium can carry a lot more information over a lot longer distance than the outdated copper or coaxial medium. Today, you can send a digitized light signal well beyond 100km without amplification because of recent advances in the purity of today's glass fiber and better electronics systems. Fiber optics is ideal for data transmission that has less data loss, low or no interference and high bandwidth potential.

Fiber optics works by the process of total internal reflection. Light is reflected or refracted based on the angle at which it is striking a surface. This is the main process by which optical fiber works. You can restrict the angle at which the light waves are being delivered to make it possible to control how efficiently they are reaching their destination. The light waves are covered with a core of optical fiber. This is similar to the way radio frequency signals are being covered with coaxial cable but a lot faster and efficient. The light waves get directed across the fiber in the cord by being reflected within the core. How the core of glass is created determines the fiber's capability to reflect light. This is done by creating a much higher refractive index in the core of the glass compared to the surrounding cladding glass, creating what is called a “waveguide”. You can make a higher refractive index in the core by slightly changing the makeup of the core glass. This is done by adding small amounts of a dopant, and sometimes the waveguide is made by making the outside less refractive, using different dopants.

There are a lot of advantages to optical fiber technology. Here a few of the most prominent ones:
• Capacity: It takes a lot less energy to send signals with a much higher bandwidth over optical fiber cables compared to the copper cables. This means that compared to copper cables you are able to transfer a lot more channels of information over longer distances and with a lot less cable repeaters necessary. This is probably the biggest advantage to the older cables, as more bandwidth is necessary in this technological world.
• The size and weight of cables: Optical fiber cables are a lot lighter and thinner than copper cables with the same bandwidth, meaning that in an underground cabling duct, a lot less space is required, or alternatively you can have a ton more bandwidth packed into the same cabling duct. If we were to continue to use copper wires, and keep expanding our ducts, we would end up with huge labyrinths of ducts.
• Security: In a world where hackers and other types of cyber criminals are rampant, it's nice to have secure wires. Optical wires don't only protect against criminals that would try to interfere or tap into the wires, but they provide security to electromagnetic interference from radio signals and devices, some car ignition systems, and natural disasters like lightning. They can even work through explosive or flammable atmosphere.

Fiber optical devices have a lot of areas of application, and here are some of the most common and useful ones: In telecommunications and linking telephone substations, and for use in LAN, Cable TV, and CCTV or Closed Circuit television systems.

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