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Fiber Optic Cable

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What is fiber optics? Fiber optics can be described as a technology that transmits information using light pulses along a glass or other plastic fiber. A fiber optic cable may contain several hundred of these glass fibers. The glass fiber core is protected by a second layer of glass called cladding. The buffer tube layer protects cladding. A jacket layer is the last protective layer for each strand. Fiber optic cables are popular because they offer many advantages over copper cables. These benefits include higher bandwidth, transmit speeds, and better quality.

Fiber optics: How it works. Fiber optics transmit data using light particles, or photons, that are transmitted through fiber optic cables. Each glass fiber core and cladding have a refractive index which bends the light at a specific angle. Light signals that pass through fiber optic cables reflect off the core and cover in a series zig-zag bounces. This is called total internal reflection. Because of the dense glass layers, light signals travel 30% slower than light. Repeaters are needed at distant intervals to renew or boost the signal. Repeaters are used to regenerate an optical signal by changing it into an electrical signal, then processing the electrical signal and retransmitting it. Fiber optic cables can now support 10 Gbps signals. The cost of a fiber optic cable will increase as its bandwidth capacity increases.

There are two types of fiber optic cables. Multimode fiber and single mode fiber. Single-mode fiber can be used for longer distances because it has a smaller core of glass fiber. The smaller diameter of the core reduces the chance of signal loss through attenuation. This smaller opening allows the light to be focused into one beam. It also makes it easier for the signal to travel longer distances. Lasers are the light source for single-mode fiber. Single-mode fiber can be more costly because it requires more precise calculations to produce laser light through a narrower opening. Multimode fiber, on the other hand, is more cost-effective as light signals bounce back and reflect more along its length. A larger diameter allows multiple light pulses to pass through the cable at once, which leads to more data transmission. However, this also means that signal loss, reduction, or interference is possible. Multimode fiber optics use an LED to produce the light pulse.

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