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Fiber optics are a complex network of cables running across the globe. You’ll find them underground and beneath the ocean.
How did we go from talking through two cans and a string to sending terabytes of data across countries? The answer is fiber optics.
Fiber optic technology was first used in endoscopies, but now they’re used for the internet! Let’s dissect the words fiber optics. The fiber in question is a glass, plastic, or silica-based core through which light beams pass, hence the “optics.”
Fiber optics uses several light phenomena to transmit information. This article covers everything you need to know about fiber optic technology, so read on to find out more!
First, you convert these forms of communication into something a computer understands. Every pixel of your photos, and each voice message, translates into ones and zeroes of binary. Once converted into a string of ones and zeroes, a signal tower picks up on these numbers and translates them into frequencies.
Cables interpret ones as high-frequency waves and zeroes as low-frequency waves. High-frequency waves generate a light pulse, while low-frequency waves don’t. These light pulses travel through the optic fiber network that spans the globe.
Getting into the physics of it, the beam of light bounces along a glass cylinder until it reaches the impulse recipient. The endpoint can even be ceilings in nightclubs and movie theaters using fiber optic lights.
You may be thinking that a beam of light can easily pass through a glass tube! It does, but there’s a twist.
Fiber optics operates on light refraction. Light refraction is when light bends as it passes through a different medium.
This is why a pencil appears broken when you place half of it in a glass filled with water. The glass and the water have higher refractive indices than air, so when light passes, it bends.
So, how do they contain the light inside the cylinder? Well, you can bend light as it passes through two different mediums. If you bend it enough, it will bounce right back instead of passing through in a phenomenon called total internal reflection.
The different refractive indices cause light to reflect like a mirror.
Instead of leaking outside the tube, the right angle will cause the photons to bounce back and continue their path. Angling the beam at the critical angle confines the beam within the cylinder for a long distance.
Fiber optic products have the same thickness as a strand of hair. The best fiber optics are often coated in robust protective layers to withstand the elements both on terrain and submarines. Light needs both the high refractive index of glass and the low refractive index of air to achieve internal reflection.
Unfortunately, this protective coating terminates the light path. Adding cladding betwixt the core and the protective layer restores total internal reflection. The cladding has a lower refractive index to mimic air.
Learn More About Fiber Optic Technology Today
The technology industry is booming with innovation. Fiber optic technology has made leaps and bounds from its first use. It uses light phenomena to transmit a beam of light produced from impulses so that we can communicate across the globe.
Thank you for reading our article! To learn more about types of fiber optics and electrical components, check out our other blog posts!