Fibre Optics is more commonly used for the transportation of data where the links are longer than 200 metres. Many companies are now moving to fibre optics as the advantages outweigh other methods. Fibre optics has the ability to carry information for hundreds of kilometres faster and can handle the transfers of larger amounts of data. Fibre optics also has less interference over copper wire in long distance and high demand applications.
Network Solutions can help you with:
- Fibre Optic Cabling (Single-mode and Multi-mode fibres)
- Fibre Terminations
- OTDR Testing to Australian Standards
- Fusion Splicing
What is fiber optics?
We’re used to the idea of information traveling in different ways. When we speak into a landline telephone, a wire cable carries the sounds from our voice into a socket in the wall, where another cable takes it to the local telephone exchange.
Cellphones work a different way: they send and receive information using invisible radio waves—a technology called wireless because it uses no cables. Fiber optics works a third way. It sends information coded in a beam of light down a glass or plastic pipe. It was originally developed for endoscopes in the 1950s to help doctors see inside the human body without having to cut it open first.
In the 1960s, engineers found a way of using the same technology to transmit telephone calls at the speed of light (normally that’s 186,000 miles or 300,000 km per second in a vacuum, but slows to about two thirds this speed in a fiber-optic cable).
How fiber-optics works
Light travels down a fiber-optic cable by bouncing repeatedly off the walls. Each tiny photon (particle of light) bounces down the pipe like a bobsleigh going down an ice run.
Now you might expect a beam of light, traveling in a clear glass pipe, simply to leak out of the edges. But if light hits glass at a really shallow angle (less than 42 degrees), it reflects back in again—as though the glass were really a mirror.
This phenomenon is called total internal reflection. It’s one of the things that keeps light inside the pipe.
Types of fiber-optic cables
Optical fibers carry light signals down them in what are called modes. That sounds technical but it just means different ways of traveling: a mode is simply the path that a light beam follows down the fiber.
One mode is to go straight down the middle of the fiber. Another is to bounce down the fiber at a shallow angle. Other modes involve bouncing down the fiber at other angles, more or less steep.
Uses for fiber optics
Shooting light down a pipe seems like a neat scientific party trick, and you might not think there’d be many practical applications for something like that.
But just as electricity can power many types of machines, beams of light can carry many types of information—so they can help us in many ways. We don’t notice just how commonplace fiber-optic cables have become because the laser-powered signals they carry flicker far beneath our feet, deep under office floors and city streets.
The technologies that use it—computer networking, broadcasting, medical scanning, and military equipment (to name just four)—do so quite invisibly.