Facts About Fiber Optics

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An optical fiber is a flexible, transparent fiber made of glass (silica) or plastic, slightly thicker than a human hair. It functions as a waveguide, or light pipe, to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber.

  • Optical fiber can be used as a medium for telecommunication and computer networking because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables. It is especially advantageous for long-distance communications.
  • Optical fiber is also used in imaging optics.
  • A coherent bundle of fibers is used, sometimes along with lenses, for a long, thin imaging device called an endoscope, Medical endoscopes are used for minimally invasive exploratory or surgical procedures.
  • Industrial endoscopes (see fiber scope or borescope) are used for inspecting anything hard to reach, such as jet engine interiors.
  • Many microscopes use fiber-optic light sources to provide intense illumination of samples being studied.
  • Optical fibers typically include a transparent core surrounded by a transparent cladding material with a lower index of refraction.
  • Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths than other forms of communication.
  • Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with less loss and are also immune to electromagnetic interference.
  • Fibers are also used for illumination, and are wrapped in bundles so that they may be used to carry images, thus allowing viewing in confined spaces.
  • Joining lengths of optical fiber is more complex than joining electrical wire or cable. The ends of the fibers must be carefully cleaved, and then spliced together, either mechanically or by fusing them with heat.

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