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Introduction: An optical fiber is a flexible, transparent fiber made of silica or plastic, sl ightly thicker than a human hair.

It can function as a waveguide, or light pipe , t o transmit light between the two ends of the fiber. Optical fibers are widely us ed in fiber-optic communications, which permits transmission over longer distanc es and at higher bandwidths than other forms of communication. Fibers are used i nstead of metal wires because signals travel along them with less loss and are a lso immune to electromagnetic interference. Fibers are also used for illuminatio n, and are wrapped in bundles so that they may be used to carry images, thus all owing viewing in confined spaces. Specially designed fibers are used for a varie ty 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. Types of Optical Fibers: 1. Single-mode fiber: Fiber supporting only one mode is called single-mode or mono-mode fiber. Modes are the possible solutions of the Helmholtz equation for waves, which is obtaine d by combining Maxwell's equations and the boundary conditions. These modes defi ne the way the wave travels through space, i.e. how the wave is distributed in s pace. Waves can have the same mode but have different frequencies. This is the c ase in single-mode fibers, where we can have waves with different frequencies, b ut of the same mode, which means that they are distributed in space in the same way, and that gives us a single ray of light. 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 numbe r of additional modes at visible wavelengths. 2. Multi-mode fiber: Fiber with large core diameter may be analyzed by geometrical optics. Such fiber is called multi-mode fiber. In a step-index multi-mode fiber, rays of light are guided along the fiber core by total internal reflection. Rays that meet the co re-cladding boundary at a high angle, greater than the critical angle for this b oundary, are completely reflected. The critical angle is determined by the diffe rence 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 angl e determines the acceptance angle of the fiber, often reported as a numerical ap erture. A high numerical aperture allows light to propagate down the fiber in ra ys 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 there fore take different times to traverse the fiber. 3. Special-purpose fiber Some special-purpose optical fiber is constructed with a non-cylindrical core an d/or cladding layer, usually with an elliptical or rectangular cross-section. Th ese include polarization-maintaining fiber and fiber designed to suppress whispe ring gallery mode propagation. Polarization-maintaining fibers are unique type o f fibers that is commonly used in fiber optic sensors due to its ability to main

tain the polarization of the light inserted in it.

Applications: 1. Optical fiber communication

Optical fiber can be used as a medium for telecommunication and computer network ing because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables. It is especially advant ageous for long-distance communications, because light propagates through the fi ber with little attenuation compared to electrical cables. This allows long dist ances to be spanned with few repeaters.Each fiber can carry many independent cha nnels, each using a different wavelength of light (wavelength-division multiplex ing (WDM)). The net data rate 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). For short distance application, such as a network in an office building, fiber-o ptic cabling can save space in cable ducts. This is because a single fiber can c arry much more data than electrical cables. Fiber is also immune to electrical i nterference; there is no cross-talk between signals in different cables, and no pickup of environmental noise. Non-armored fiber cables do not conduct electrici ty, which makes fiber a good solution for protecting communications equipment in high voltage environments, such as power generation facilities, or metal commun ication structures prone to lightning strikes. They can also be used in environm ents where explosive fumes are present, without danger of ignition. 2. Fiber optic sensors Optical fibers can be used as sensors to measure strain, temperature, pressure a nd other quantities by modifying a fiber so that the property to measure modulat es the intensity, phase, polarization, wavelength, or transit time of light in t he fiber. Sensors that vary the intensity of light are the simplest, since only a simple source and detector are required and they can provide distributed sensi ng over distances of up to one meter. Common uses for fiber optic sensors includes advanced intrusion detection securi ty systems. The light is transmitted along a fiber optic sensor cable placed on a fence, pipeline, or communication cabling, and the returned signal is monitore d and analysed for disturbances. This return signal is digitally processed to de tect disturbances and trip an alarm if an intrusion has occurred. Extrinsic fiber which measure vibration, rotation, displacement, velocity, accel eration, torque, and twisting also use an optical fiber cable for sensing.

3. Illumination: Optical fibers are widely used in illumination applications. They are used as li ght guides in medical and other applications where bright light needs to be shon e on a target without a clear line-of-sight path. In some buildings, optical fib ers route sunlight from the roof to other parts of the building. 4. Imaging Optics: Optical fiber is also used in imaging optics. A coherent bundle of fibers is use d, sometimes along with lenses, for a long, thin imaging device called an endosc ope, which is used to view objects through a small hole. Medical endoscopes are used for minimally invasive exploratory or surgical procedures. Industrial endos copes (see fiberscope or borescope) are used for inspecting anything hard to rea ch, such as jet engine interiors. Many microscopes use fiber-optic light sources to provide intense illumination of samples being studied. 4. Spectrometer: In spectroscopy, optical fiber bundles transmit light from a spectrometer to a s ubstance that cannot be placed inside the spectrometer itself, in order to analy ze 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 r emotely. 5. Power Supply: Optical fiber can also 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. Principle of operation: The propagation of light through the core of an optical fiber is based on total internal reflection of the lightwave. Rough and irregular surfaces, even at the molecular level, can cause light rays to be reflected in random directions. Thi s is called diffuse reflection or scattering, and it is typically characterized by wide variety of reflection angles.To confine the optical signal in the core, the refractive index of the core must be greater than that of the cladding. The boundary between the core and cladding may either be abrupt, in step-index fiber , or gradual, in graded-index fiber. When light traveling in an optically dense medium hits a boundary at a steep ang le (larger than the critical angle for the boundary), the light is completely re flected. This is called total internal reflection. This effect is used in optica l fibers to confine light in the core. Light travels through the fiber core, bou ncing back and forth off the boundary between the core and cladding. Because the light must strike the boundary with an angle greater than the critical angle, o nly light that enters the fiber within a certain range of angles can travel down the fiber without leaking out.The size of this acceptance cone is a function of the refractive index difference between the fiber's core and cladding. Advantages of Optical Fiber over Conventional Copper System The advantages of optical fiber communication with respect to copper wire system s are:-

1. Broad Bandwidth Broadband communication is very much possible over fiber optics which means that audio signal, video signal, microwave signal, text and data from computers can be modulated over light carrier wave and demodulated by optical receiver at the other end.It is possible to transmit around 3,00,000 two ways voice or 90,000 TV channels over one optical fiber. 2. Immunity to Electromagnetic Interference Optical fiber cables are carrying the information over light waves which are tra veling in the fibers due to the properties of the fiber materials, there are no pick up of signals, means immune to conductive and radiative interfaces caused b y electrical noise from vehicles lighting and other sources and power cables adj acent to fiber cables even there is no effect of electromagnetic pulse generated by nuclear devices. So,electromagnetic interference with the light wave traveli ng inside the optical fiber cables does not exist. 3. Low attenuation loss over long distances There are various optical windows in the optical fiber cable at which the attenu ation loss is found to be comparatively low and so transmitter and receiver devi ces are developed and used in these low attenuation region. Due to low attenuati on in optical fiber cables, it is possible to achieve long distance communicatio n efficiently over information capacity rate of 1 Tbit/s. 4 Electrical Insulator Optical fibers are made and drawn from silica glass which is nonconductor of ele ctricity and so there are no ground loops and leakage of any type of current. Op tical fibers are thus laid down along with high voltage cables on the electricit y polls due to its electrical insulator behavior.

Practical Issues: Optical fiber cables: In practical fibers, the cladding is usually coated with a tough resin buffer la yer, which may be further surrounded by a jacket layer, usually glass. These lay ers add strength to the fiber but do not contribute to its optical wave guide pr operties. Rigid fiber assemblies sometimes put light-absorbing ("dark") glass be tween the fibers, to prevent light that leaks out of one fiber from entering ano ther. This reduces cross-talk between the fibers, or reduces flare in fiber bund le imaging applications. Fiber cable can be very flexible, but traditional fiber's loss increases greatly if the fiber is bent with a radius smaller than around 30 mm. This creates a pr oblem when the cable is bent around corners or wound around a spool, making FTTX installations more complicated. Free-space coupling: It is often necessary to align an optical fiber with another optical ith an optoelectronic device such as a light-emitting diode, a laser modulator. This can involve either carefully aligning the fiber and in contact with the device, or can use a lens to allow coupling over fiber, or w diode, or a placing it an air gap.

In some cases the end of the fiber is polished into a curved form that makes it act as a lens. Fiber fuse At high optical intensities, above 2 megawatts per square centimeter, when a fib er is subjected to a shock or is otherwise suddenly damaged, a fiber fuse can oc cur. The reflection from the damage vaporizes the fiber immediately before the b reak, and this new defect remains reflective so that the damage propagates back toward the transmitter at 1 3 meters per second