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The Tremendous Applications of Fiber Optics

Jun 7, 2008
The use of fiber optic systems is expanding at a amazing rate. Only in the past 10 years, fiber optic communications systems have replaced almost all coaxial and twisted pair cables especially in network backbones. This is especially true in any long distance communication links.

Why? This can be explained simply. Fiber optic cables are easier to install, are lighter than traditional copper cables, are much smaller than their electronic counterparts, and most importantly, they have much more bandwidth!

Because fiber optic cables are lighter, they are easier to pull through existing ducts and cable raceways. Other big advantages of fiber cables including their immunity to electromagnetic interference, longer repeater distances, lower power requirements, and higher flexibility.

All the above pros make fiber optic cables very attractive and most important of all, very cost effective.

The unstoppable trend for fiber optic applications are the move from the long haul (long distance) to our desk, our house, and our office. The terms include FTTC ( fiber to the curb), FTTD (fiber to the desk), FTTH (fiber to the home) and FTTB( fiber to the building).

Fiber optic cables enable our dream of integrating all our phone, Internet and TV services. Fiber's wide bandwidth makes this possible. It provides more than enough capacity to meet all our voice, data and video requirements.

The transformation from copper to fiber is greatly accelerated by the invention of optical fiber amplifiers. Optical fiber amplifiers enable optical signal transmission over very long distances without the expensive process of conversion to electronic signals, electronic amplification and the conversion back to optical signal again as in traditional regenerators.

Today most of the network traffic switching are still performed by electronic switches such as those from Cisco. But tremendous interest and effort of using all-optical devices for all network switching are accumulating in the industry. The most important characteristic of all-optical switching lies in its almost unlimited transmission capacity.

However, it is still in the prototype stage for controlling light with light, so optical switch circuits are still controlled by electronic circuits at this moment. The switching matrix may be optical circuits but the control are still done by electronic circuits.

Optical fiber is almost the ideal medium for signal transmission available today and in the foreseeable future. The excellent characteristic of optical fiber is its immunity to electromagnetic interference. Optical circuits can be crossed in a common space without cross interference among them.

But there are problems which are impeding the speed of all-optical system development. The most obvious and basic reason is the compatibility requirements with legacy fiber optic systems.

Another big advantage of optical fiber lies in the ability to multiplex its capacity via WDM (wavelength division multiplexer). WDM modulates each of several data streams into a different part of the light spectrum. WDM is the optical equivalent of FDM (frequency division multiplexer). The use of WDM can increase the capacity of a single channel fiber optic communication system by hundreds of times.

In additional to communication systems, fiber optic technologies are also widely used in medicine, illumination, sensing, endoscopy, industry control and more.
About the Author
Colin Yao is an expert on fiber optic communication technologies and products. Learn more about Corning cable , Corning fiber cable , Corning fiber optic cable .
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