How it Works: An In-Depth Look at Fiber Optics


If you’re not into tech then as technology has become much more sophisticated and complex you may have struggled to keep up with what everything means. There is so much technology-related lingo that the average person doesn’t understand, whilst they might have heard of a lot of these tech terms it’s likely a lot of people don’t actually know what they are. There is so much to technology and computers that is extremely difficult to understand. One of the things many people talk about and are aware of is fibre optics but many people don’t actually know what this means or how it works. We’ve found some great in-depth information about fibre optics so next time you’re stuck in a tech conversation you’ll know what you’re talking about.

What is Fibre Optics?

Fibre optics are also known as optical fibres and they were a great development in tech that has aided the creation of many things. It was a great breakthrough in technology as it is the tech that is highly associated with allowing the transmission of data to occur through using light beams and having them travel across a glass or plastic fibre strand. Most of the things that fibre optics is now used for it has been an upgrade from copper wires, which are much slower for communications. All fibre optic cables differ slightly as they contain different numbers of these glass or plastic fibre strands, from a few to hundreds of them. They’re also covered in cladding which is another glass layer that surrounds the fibres for additional protection. There are 2 additional layers for protection, a buffer tube sits on top of the cladding and on top of this is the layer commonly referred to as the jacket.

What are Fibre Optics used for?

The development of fibre optics was game-changing for many areas as it is a much more efficient and faster way of transferring data. The most well-known use of fibre optics is to allow people to have high-speed internet connection, fibre optic is the newest and fastest type of broadband, so if your old broadband isn’t working for you anymore then you can upgrade to a fibre optic one and luckily for you there are many options so make sure you compare the latest fibre optic broadband deals. The fibre optics are a lot less bulky than the copper-wired older broadbands to use and they’re more flexible and carry much more data. Fibre optics has also become heavily relied on for networking between computers, again, it makes communications among computers in the same network much quicker. Sharing data between computers in the same building is much more effective with the use of fibre optics, so much so that you can actually notice a decrease in how long it takes to send files from one computer to another once you make the upgrade.

Another field where fibre optics have been groundbreaking is one that you may not expect; the dentistry industry. Similarly to this, it has also been adapted to help in various surgeries. This technology is actually widely used in medicine and helped with creating advanced new fewer systems to make surgery risky. Since using this technology there are more non-invasive surgery options replacing traditional surgeries, one of the most well-known surgeries that take advantage of this technology is endoscopies. In the medical field, fibre optics are still explored in biomedical research to this day.

Some of the other most common uses of fibre optics are in the car industry, they’re really important for safety when driving as they’re used for the lights both in the interior and on the exterior of the car and thanks to the fast communication time they’re also used in other safety features like airbags. They improved telephone communication, have made it possible to have fun colored lights for example fun Christmas lights and they’re also highly important in the military as they allow for data to be kept more securely.

How does Fibre optics work?

Fibre optics work by very quickly transmitting data to its destination in the form of light, or if you want to use the technical term ‘photons’. The two glass layers; the strand itself and the cladding allow this to happen as they have a different refractive index to each other which means that the light that’s sent is bent at a particular angle. This causes something called total internal reflection as the light particle will zig-zag between the two layers.

The reason that fibre optics is the best choice for quick communication is that light can travel faster than anything. The speed of light is the fastest thing in the world, whilst the dense glass layers prevent the photons from traveling at the speed of light, they travel at around 70% of the speed of light which is still extremely fast. If the data is traveling far then within the system there is usually a repeater, their job is to convert the signal back to an electric one and re-transmit the optical signal to make sure it arrives at its destination.

There are 2 types of fibre optics: multimode fibre and single-mode fibre. They work in the same way but single-mode is generally used for shorter distances while multimode fibre is better suited for any longer distances.