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How do Fiber Optics work?

Information transfer is one of the many technological innovations we rely on in the modern world. Information can travel in many ways, such as voice transfer when speaking over the telephone, data transmission over multiple computers, use of the internet, etc. For instance, if one were to talk on a telephone, their voice travels through the cable into the socket box before moving through another cable to reach the telephone exchange. The cables used for information transfer are fiber optic cables that use beams of light to send data through glass pipes. Fiber optic cables were originally invented for endoscopic procedures so that doctors could provide diagnoses to patients without conducting invasive surgeries.

Later, fiber optics were used to transmit data at the speed of light. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second (300,000 km per second) in a vacuum, but light signals only travel at around two-thirds of the speed of light when traversing a fiber optic cable. Each fiber is a thin strand composed of glass, and each cable includes anywhere from two to one hundred strands in a single assembly. Each strand is as thin as a human hair and can carry approximately 25,000 calls worth of data at once. Hence, the entire optical fiber can carry millions of calls worth of data.

The Working of Fiber Optic Cables

In fiber optic cables, each light particle bounces through the glass pipe while traveling, where refraction can be expected. However, despite refraction, if the light bounces at a shallow angle of less than approximately 42 degrees, the light will reflect into the glass pipe. This process keeps the light inside the glass pipe without refraction, this of which is known as total internal reflection. The structure of a cable is usually made up of two parts that help contain the light in the pipe. The main part of the pipe is located in the middle of the assembly, and it is known as the core. In addition, there is one outer layer made up of a different type of glass known as cladding. It keeps light inside the core and has a lower refractive index.

Types of Fiber Optics

Modes are used to discuss the varying ways in which light may travel through a fiber. Fiber optic light can travel in multiple ways, one type featuring light that goes straight down the fiber, and another where light bounces at a shallow angle. Other modes can also reflect fewer shallow angles. The single-mode type is the simplest optical fiber with a thin core, where all signals travel straight down the fiber without reflection. Single-mode cables are wrapped in a huge bundle and are used for TV cables, internet, and telephones.

Another example of a fiber optic mode is the multi-mode variation which has a cable that is ten times bigger than the single mode type. Multi-mode cables help the beam of light travel in the various paths through the core. In other words, you can say it has multiple modes that allow information to be sent over a short distance, and they are used to connect devices to a computer network.

Apart from the examples mentioned above, there are three more types of fiber optic cables such as plenum, simplex, and duplex variations. Plenum cables are a type that comply with air plenum industry standards, and they are usually used inside buildings with unique materials and jacketing compounds. Next, simplex fiber optic cables contain a single glass strand, and they are traditionally required when a multiplex data signal is to be transfered or when relying on a single transmission between devices. On the other hand, duplex fiber cables have two glass or plastic strands that are typically known for their zip-cord construction format, and they are often used for duplex communication between devices.


With fiber optic components, light beams can be used to carry information or data for the benefit of various machines, which can help us in many ways. There are many practical applications of such components, such as colored lights for decorations, glass fiber optics used for communication & networks, military equipment, broadcasting, medical scanning, etc. If you are looking for any product like fiber optics, we at Fastener Orbit can provide great products at the best price alongside excellent services. You can also browse our inventory or contact us if you cannot find any specific part you need for your operation. 


February 19, 2023
December 2, 2022

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