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Fiber Optics Definition & Meaning

Fiber optics are thin glass or plastic fibers used to transmit data via light. A fiber optic cable consists of a bundle of optical fibers that can transmit information over long distances and at high bandwidth. The main component of a fiber optic cable is made up of two parts—the core and the cladding. The core is the actual glass fiber that the light travels through, and the cladding is wrapped around the core to ensure the light signals cannot escape the fiber.  

History of fiber optics

The first successful application of fiber optic technology came with the invention of the gastroscope in 1956. By the 1960s, scientists had discovered how to transmit telephone and television signals through fiber optics. Today, fiber optic cables are the main vehicle for transmitting many forms of communication over long distances.

Advantages over wire cables

The main disadvantage of fiber optics is that the cables are expensive to install. In addition, they are more fragile than wire and are difficult to splice.

Types of fiber optics

There are two types of fiber optic cables— singlemode and multimode. Mode simply refers to the path that the beam of light travels.  

  • Singlemode fiber has a thin core, and the light signals travel directly down the fiber without bouncing off the sides. This causes less attenuation and allows the signal to travel over long distances. 
  • Multimode fiber has a core five to ten times larger in diameter than the singlemode fiber. Because of the width of the multimode fiber, multiple light signals can travel the fiber at once, but this does limit the distance that signals can be transmitted. 

Uses of fiber optics

  • Internet cables
  • Computer networking cables
  • Cable television transmission
  • Medical devices
  • Telephone cables









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