Category Archives: Fiber Optic

Prysmian opens new fiber-optic cable plant in Romania

Cable maker Prysmian Group says it has a new fiber optic cable production facility at its campus in Slatina, Romania. The new production capability will triple the factory’s fiber-optic cable capacity to 1.5 million km, with the potential to reach 3 million km.

Prysmian manufactures energy cable and copper cable as well as fiber cable at the 40-year-old Slatina factory, one of 24 production facilities the company operates worldwide. The site began producing fiber optic cable in 2009. The plant comprises almost 100,000 m2 of space, 42,000 m2 of it covered, and employs more than 400 people.

“The investment in the new facility in Slatina is part of a major plan to further reinforce the Group’s competitiveness in this fast-changing market,” said Valerio Battista, CEO of the Prysmian Group. “Many developments are taking place in the current telecoms market. New players and services are appearing and evolution in broadband, double-play and triple-play services is dynamic. For this reason, as one of the major players in the telecom cable industry, Prysmian Group is continuously investing in this strategic sector in order to offer innovative technological solutions for the development of telecoms networks.”

Source from, China fiber optic cable manufacturer

Fiber becoming more accessible in data center networks

Data center networks have traditionally been built on a combination of structured cabling architectures, backhaul infrastructure and some point-to-point and top-of-rack cabling setups to support specific needs. This combination of cables can be extremely complex and often handles an incredibly large quantity of data. As traditional copper Ethernet cables used in many of these cabling topologies begin to struggle with bandwidth requirements, the need for fiber optic cables is increasing in the data center. According to Data Center Knowledge, advances in the fiber optic cabling sector are creating an environment in which optical network components are becoming more accessible.

The timing of advances in fiber could be perfect, as the rise of 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps network speeds could make fiber critical in a wide range of data centers. Fiber is not necessarily going to replace structured cables, as copper is able to handle 10 Gbps speeds and will likely be able to support 40 Gbps when the Category 8 standard is released. However, fiber may soon be necessary in the various interconnection points and backhaul setups within data centers.

The news source explained that pushable fiber is proving integral to helping data center managers take better advantage of optical network resources.

Understanding the advantage of pushable fiber
The article explained that pushable fiber is changing the way that data center managers install and manager optical components in the network. The combination of advanced microducts and better polymers in optical cables has created a dynamic in which fiber can be installed much more easily. In the past, fiber deployment required space in a specialized duct that protected the cables from being bent or having pressure exerted on them. New microducts provide the necessary protection and can be run through traditional cabling ducts. Furthermore, increasingly flexible fiber optic cables capable of a higher bend resistance are making installation a less strenuous activity.

According to the news source, many data center leaders have had to deal with costly projects to adjust network capacity. Innovation in pushable fiber is making many of those costs unnecessary by making it easier to integrate fiber with other parts of the configuration.

Fiber optic cabling has long had a reputation for offering incredible performance gains, but with high costs and major installation challenges. As the technology of the cables themselves has matured, many of these deployment and expense issues are receding, making the cabling format a much more accessible option in the data center.

What is Single-mode optic fiber

Fiber with a core diameter less than about ten times the wavelength of the propagating light cannot be modeled using geometric optics. Instead, it must be analyzed as an electromagnetic structure, by solution of Maxwell’s equations as reduced to the electromagnetic wave equation. The electromagnetic analysis may also be required to understand behaviors such as speckle that occur when coherent light propagates in multi-mode fiber. As an optical waveguide, the fiber supports one or more confined transverse modes by which light can propagate along the fiber. Fiber supporting only one mode is called single-mode or mono-mode fiber. The behavior of larger-core multi-mode fiber can also be modeled using the wave equation, which shows that such fiber supports more than one mode of propagation (hence the name). The results of such modeling of multi-mode fiber approximately agree with the predictions of geometric optics, if the fiber core is large enough to support more than a few modes.

The waveguide analysis shows that the light energy in the fiber is not completely confined in the core. Instead, especially in single-mode fibers, a significant fraction of the energy in the bound mode travels in the cladding as an evanescent wave.

The most common type of single-mode fiber has a core diameter of 8–10 micrometers and is designed for use in the near infrared. The mode structure depends on the wavelength of the light used, so that this fiber actually supports a small number of additional modes at visible wavelengths. Multi-mode fiber, by comparison, is manufactured with core diameters as small as 50 micrometers and as large as hundreds of micrometers. The normalized frequency V for this fiber should be less than the first zero of the Bessel function J0 (approximately 2.405).

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What is Multi-mode fiber?

Fiber with large core diameter (greater than 10 micrometers) may be analyzed by geometrical optics. Such fiber is called multi-mode fiber, from the electromagnetic analysis (see below). In a step-index multi-mode fiber, rays of light are guided along the fiber core by total internal reflection. Rays that meet the core-cladding boundary at a high angle (measured relative to a line normal to the boundary), greater than the critical angle for this boundary, are completely reflected. The critical angle (minimum angle for total internal reflection) is determined by the difference in index of refraction between the core and cladding materials. Rays that meet the boundary at a low angle are refracted from the core into the cladding, and do not convey light and hence information along the fiber. The critical angle determines the acceptance angle of the fiber, often reported as a numerical aperture. A high numerical aperture allows light to propagate down the fiber in rays both close to the axis and at various angles, allowing efficient coupling of light into the fiber. However, this high numerical aperture increases the amount of dispersion as rays at different angles have different path lengths and therefore take different times to traverse the fiber.

Optical fiber types.


A laser bouncing down an acrylic rod, illustrating the total internal reflection of light in a multi-mode optical fiber.

The propagation of light through a multi-mode optical fiber.

In graded-index fiber, the index of refraction in the core decreases continuously between the axis and the cladding. This causes light rays to bend smoothly as they approach the cladding, rather than reflecting abruptly from the core-cladding boundary. The resulting curved paths reduce multi-path dispersion because high angle rays pass more through the lower-index periphery of the core, rather than the high-index center. The index profile is chosen to minimize the difference in axial propagation speeds of the various rays in the fiber. This ideal index profile is very close to a parabolic relationship between the index and the distance from the axis.

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The Other uses of optical fibers

Fibers are widely used in illumination applications. They are used as light guides in medical and other applications where bright light needs to be shone on a target without a clear line-of-sight path. In some buildings, optical fibers route sunlight from the roof to other parts of the building (see nonimaging optics). Optical fiber illumination is also used for decorative applications, including signs, art, toys and artificial Christmas trees. Swarovski boutiques use optical fibers to illuminate their crystal showcases from many different angles while only employing one light source. Optical fiber is an intrinsic part of the light-transmitting concrete building product, LiTraCon.

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, which is used to view objects through a small hole. Medical endoscopes are used for minimally invasive exploratory or surgical procedures. Industrial endoscopes (see fiberscope 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.

In spectroscopy, optical fiber bundles transmit light from a spectrometer to a substance that cannot be placed inside the spectrometer itself, in order to analyze its composition. A spectrometer analyzes substances by bouncing light off of and through them. By using fibers, a spectrometer can be used to study objects remotely.

An optical fiber doped with certain rare earth elements such as erbium can be used as the gain medium of a laser or optical amplifier. Rare-earth doped optical fibers can be used to provide signal amplification by splicing a short section of doped fiber into a regular (undoped) optical fiber line. The doped fiber is optically pumped with a second laser wavelength that is coupled into the line in addition to the signal wave. Both wavelengths of light are transmitted through the doped fiber, which transfers energy from the second pump wavelength to the signal wave. The process that causes the amplification is stimulated emission.

Optical fibers doped with a wavelength shifter collect scintillation light in physics experiments.

Optical fiber can be used to supply a low level of power (around one watt) to electronics situated in a difficult electrical environment. Examples of this are electronics in high-powered antenna elements and measurement devices used in high voltage transmission equipment.

The iron sights for handguns, rifles, and shotguns may use short pieces of optical fiber for contrast enhancement.

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What are Fiber optic sensors

Fibers have many uses in remote sensing. In some applications, the sensor is itself an optical fiber. In other cases, fiber is used to connect a non-fiberoptic sensor to a measurement system. Depending on the application, fiber may be used because of its small size, or the fact that no electrical power is needed at the remote location, or because many sensors can be multiplexed along the length of a fiber by using different wavelengths of light for each sensor, or by sensing the time delay as light passes along the fiber through each sensor. Time delay can be determined using a device such as an optical time-domain reflectometer.

Optical fibers can be used as sensors to measure strain, temperature, pressure and other quantities by modifying a fiber so that the property to measure modulates the intensity, phase, polarization, wavelength, or transit time of light in the fiber. Sensors that vary the intensity of light are the simplest, since only a simple source and detector are required. A particularly useful feature of such fiber optic sensors is that they can, if required, provide distributed sensing over distances of up to one meter.

Extrinsic fiber optic sensors use an optical fiber cable, normally a multi-mode one, to transmit modulated light from either a non-fiber optical sensor—or an electronic sensor connected to an optical transmitter. A major benefit of extrinsic sensors is their ability to reach otherwise inaccessible places. An example is the measurement of temperature inside aircraft jet engines by using a fiber to transmit radiation into a radiation pyrometer outside the engine. Extrinsic sensors can be used in the same way to measure the internal temperature of electrical transformers, where the extreme electromagnetic fields present make other measurement techniques impossible. Extrinsic sensors measure vibration, rotation, displacement, velocity, acceleration, torque, and twisting. A solid state version of the gyroscope, using the interference of light, has been developed. The fiber optic gyroscope (FOG) has no moving parts, and exploits the Sagnac effect to detect mechanical rotation.

Common uses for fiber optic sensors includes advanced intrusion detection security systems. The light is transmitted along a fiber optic sensor cable placed on a fence, pipeline, or communication cabling, and the returned signal is monitored and analysed for disturbances. This return signal is digitally processed to detect disturbances and trip an alarm if an intrusion has occurred.

Related source: fiber optic patch cord, fiber optic attenuator, fiber optic loopback cable

Optical fiber communication

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, because light propagates through the fiber with little attenuation compared to electrical cables. This allows long distances to be spanned with few repeaters. Additionally, the per-channel light signals propagating in the fiber have been modulated at rates as high as 111 gigabits per second by NTT, although 10 or 40 Gbit/s is typical in deployed systems. Each fiber can carry many independent channels, each using a different wavelength of light (wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM)). The net data rate (data rate without overhead bytes) per fiber is the per-channel data rate reduced by the FEC overhead, multiplied by the number of channels (usually up to eighty in commercial dense WDM systems as of 2008). As of 2011 the record for bandwidth on a single core was 101 Tbit/sec (370 channels at 273 Gbit/sec each). The record for a multi-core fibre as of January 2013 was 1.05 petabits per second. In 2009, Bell Labs broke the 100 (Petabit per second)×kilometre barrier (15.5 Tbit/s over a single 7000 km fiber).

For short distance application, such as a network in an office building, fiber-optic cabling can save space in cable ducts. This is because a single fiber can carry much more data than electrical cables such as standard category 5 Ethernet cabling, which typically runs at 100 Mbit/s or 1 Gbit/s speeds. Fiber is also immune to electrical interference; there is no cross-talk between signals in different cables, and no pickup of environmental noise. Non-armored fiber cables do not conduct electricity, which makes fiber a good solution for protecting communications equipment in high voltage environments, such as power generation facilities, or metal communication structures prone to lightning strikes. They can also be used in environments where explosive fumes are present, without danger of ignition. Wiretapping (in this case, fiber tapping) is more difficult compared to electrical connections, and there are concentric dual core fibers that are said to be tap-proof.

Related fiber optic products: fiber optic patch cable, fiber optic jumper, fiber optic pigtail

The History about fiber optics

Fiber optics, though used extensively in the modern world, is a fairly simple, and relatively old, technology. Guiding of light by refraction, the principle that makes fiber optics possible, was first demonstrated by Daniel Colladon and Jacques Babinet in Paris in the early 1840s. John Tyndall included a demonstration of it in his public lectures in London, 12 years later. Tyndall also wrote about the property of total internal reflection in an introductory book about the nature of light in 1870: “When the light passes from air into water, the refracted ray is bent towards the perpendicular… When the ray passes from water to air it is bent from the perpendicular… If the angle which the ray in water encloses with the perpendicular to the surface be greater than 48 degrees, the ray will not quit the water at all: it will be totally reflected at the surface…. The angle which marks the limit where total reflection begins is called the limiting angle of the medium. For water this angle is 48°27′, for flint glass it is 38°41′, while for diamond it is 23°42′.” Unpigmented human hairs have also been shown to act as an optical fiber.

Practical applications, such as close internal illumination during dentistry, appeared early in the twentieth century. Image transmission through tubes was demonstrated independently by the radio experimenter Clarence Hansell and the television pioneer John Logie Baird in the 1920s. The principle was first used for internal medical examinations by Heinrich Lamm in the following decade. Modern optical fibers, where the glass fiber is coated with a transparent cladding to offer a more suitable refractive index, appeared later in the decade. Development then focused on fiber bundles for image transmission. Harold Hopkins and Narinder Singh Kapany at Imperial College in London achieved low-loss light transmission through a 75 cm long bundle which combined several thousand fibers. Their article titled “A flexible fibrescope, using static scanning” was published in the journal Nature in 1954. The first fiber optic semi-flexible gastroscope was patented by Basil Hirschowitz, C. Wilbur Peters, and Lawrence E. Curtiss, researchers at the University of Michigan, in 1956. In the process of developing the gastroscope, Curtiss produced the first glass-clad fibers; previous optical fibers had relied on air or impractical oils and waxes as the low-index cladding material.

A variety of other image transmission applications soon followed.

In 1880 Alexander Graham Bell and Sumner Tainter invented the ‘Photophone’ at the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C., to transmit voice signals over an optical beam. It was an advanced form of telecommunications, but subject to atmospheric interferences and impractical until the secure transport of light that would be offered by fiber-optical systems. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, light was guided through bent glass rods to illuminate body cavities.Jun-ichi Nishizawa, a Japanese scientist at Tohoku University, also proposed the use of optical fibers for communications in 1963, as stated in his book published in 2004 in India. Nishizawa invented other technologies that contributed to the development of optical fiber communications, such as the graded-index optical fiber as a channel for transmitting light from semiconductor lasers. The first working fiber-optical data transmission system was demonstrated by German physicist Manfred Börner at Telefunken Research Labs in Ulm in 1965, which was followed by the first patent application for this technology in 1966.Charles K. Kao and George A. Hockham of the British company Standard Telephones and Cables (STC) were the first to promote the idea that the attenuation in optical fibers could be reduced below 20 decibels per kilometer (dB/km), making fibers a practical communication medium. They proposed that the attenuation in fibers available at the time was caused by impurities that could be removed, rather than by fundamental physical effects such as scattering. They correctly and systematically theorized the light-loss properties for optical fiber, and pointed out the right material to use for such fibers — silica glass with high purity. This discovery earned Kao the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009.

NASA used fiber optics in the television cameras that were sent to the moon. At the time, the use in the cameras was classified confidential, and only those with the right security clearance or those accompanied by someone with the right security clearance were permitted to handle the cameras.

The crucial attenuation limit of 20 dB/km was first achieved in 1970, by researchers Robert D. Maurer, Donald Keck, Peter C. Schultz, and Frank Zimar working for American glass maker Corning Glass Works, now Corning Incorporated. They demonstrated a fiber with 17 dB/km attenuation by doping silica glass with titanium. A few years later they produced a fiber with only 4 dB/km attenuation using germanium dioxide as the core dopant. Such low attenuation ushered in optical fiber telecommunication. In 1981, General Electric produced fused quartz ingots that could be drawn into fiber optic strands 25 miles (40 km) long.

Attenuation in modern optical cables is far less than in electrical copper cables, leading to long-haul fiber connections with repeater distances of 70–150 kilometers (43–93 mi). The erbium-doped fiber amplifier, which reduced the cost of long-distance fiber systems by reducing or eliminating optical-electrical-optical repeaters, was co-developed by teams led by David N. Payne of the University of Southampton and Emmanuel Desurvire at Bell Labs in 1986. Robust modern optical fiber uses glass for both core and sheath, and is therefore less prone to aging. It was invented by Gerhard Bernsee of Schott Glass in Germany in 1973.

The emerging field of photonic crystals led to the development in 1991 of photonic-crystal fiber, which guides light by diffraction from a periodic structure, rather than by total internal reflection. The first photonic crystal fibers became commercially available in 2000. Photonic crystal fibers can carry higher power than conventional fibers and their wavelength-dependent properties can be manipulated to improve performance.

Related fiber optic products: fiber optic patch cord, fiber optic patch panel, fiber optic connector

About Optical fiber

An optical fiber (or optical fibre) is a flexible, transparent fiber made of glass (silica) or plastic, slightly thicker than a human hair. It can function as a waveguide, or “light pipe”, to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber. The field of applied science and engineering concerned with the design and application of optical fibers is known as fiber optics. Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) 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. Specially designed fibers are used for a variety of other applications, including sensors and fiber lasers.

Optical fibers typically include a transparent core surrounded by a transparent cladding material with a lower index of refraction. Light is kept in the core by total internal reflection. This causes the fiber to act as a waveguide. Fibers that support many propagation paths or transverse modes are called multi-mode fibers (MMF), while those that only support a single mode are called single-mode fibers (SMF). Multi-mode fibers generally have a wider core diameter, and are used for short-distance communication links and for applications where high power must be transmitted. Single-mode fibers are used for most communication links longer than 1,050 meters (3,440 ft).

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. Special optical fiber connectors for removable connections are also available.