fibre optic engineer

Fibre Optic: What It Is, What It Is Used For And How It Works

Are you looking to learn more about fibre optic? Let us explain what Fibre Optic is and what its operation is? As we all know that fibre optic is a transmission element that is used in data networks to connect to the Internet. But not everyone knows how to identify what fibre is, hence let’s sort this out first.

Optical fibre

The foundation of the Internet has undoubtedly been one of the most important information and communication technologies of our century. Internet is of recent creation, we speak of 1991, when the World Wide Web was created, at which time the evolution in speed and accessibility began to skyrocket to this day. Precisely thanks to technologies such as fibre optics, the increase in data transfer capacity have reached high levels of speed and distance.

What is fibre optics?

As we have already said, the optical fibre is a means of data transmission by means of photoelectric impulses through a wire made of transparent glass or other plastic materials with the same functionality. These threads can become almost as thin as a hair, and they are precisely the means of signal transmission.

Basically, through these super fine cables, a light signal is transferred from one end of the cable to the other. A laser or LED can generate this light. It is widely used to transport data over long distances since this medium has much higher bandwidth than metal cables, lower losses, and higher transmission speeds.

Another crucial aspect that we must take into account is that the optical fibre is immune to electromagnetic interference, which is something that for example, twisted pair cables suffer in all cases and contribute to the need for repeaters every certain distance. We must know that the optical fibre does not carry electrical energy, only light signals.

But fibre optic is not only used for data transmission in networks but also high-quality audio connections. Also, it is a source of lighting to provide visibility in tight spaces and even for decoration products, for example, in Christmas trees and similar things. Of course, these fibres are constructed of plastic and are low cost, and have little to do with the cables used for data.

Parts of a fibre optic cable:

Before understanding how it works, we believe it is essential to know what are the elements that constitute a fibre optic cable.

  • Core: It is the central element of a fibre optic cable that is not always present. Its function is to reinforce to prevent cable breakage and deformation.
  • Moisture drain: This element is also not present on all cables. Its function is to drive possible humidity that the cable has so that it goes through it. It is rolled in the core.
  • Fibre threads: it is the conductive element, light, and data travels through it. They are made of silicon glass or plastic of utmost quality that creates a medium in which light can be reflected and refracted correctly until reaching the destination.
  • Buffer and Cladding (coating): basically, it is the coating of the fibre optic threads. It consists of a dark layer gel filling to prevent the light rays from getting out of the fibre. In turn, the buffer is the outer coating that contains the gel and fibre.
  • Mylar tape and insulating layers: basically, it is an insulating coating that covers all fibre buffers. Depending on the type of construction will have several elements, all of the dielectric material (non-conductive).
  • Flame retardant coating: if the cable is fire resistant, you will also need a layer capable of supporting the flames.
  • Armour: the next layer is the cable armour, which in the highest quality is always made of Kevlar wires. This material is lightweight and highly resistant and flame retardant, we can see it in bulletproof vests and pilot helmets.
  • External coating: like any cable, an outer layer is needed, usually made of plastic or PVC.

How does fibre optic work?

It is the cables through which a light signal travels. The transmission mode is not based on the transfer of electrons through a conductive material. In this case, we attend to the physical phenomena of reflection and refraction of light.

Reflection: The reflection of a beam of light occurs when it strikes a surface of separation of two means. For example, if the light beam hits an angle of 90 degrees on a surface, it will bounce in the opposite direction, this is what happens when we stand in front of a mirror. If in another case, the light beam strikes a surface with 30 degrees, the laser will bounce with those same 30 degrees.

Refraction: In this case, it is when there is a change of direction and speed in a wave when passing from one medium to another. For example, it is what we see when light passes from air to water, we will see the same image, but at a different angle.

At Night Owl Electrical Controls, our expert Fiber optic engineers play an integral role in designing and installing both Multi-mode and Single-mode Fibre-Optic cabling.