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The history of PROFIBUS goes back to a publicly promoted plan for an association which started
in Germany in 1986 and for which 21 companies and institutes devised a master project plan called
"fieldbus". The goal was to implement and spread the use of a bit-serial field bus based on the basic
requirements of the field device interfaces. For this purpose, member companies agreed to support a
common technical concept for production (i.e. discrete or factory automation) and process automation.
First, the complex communication protocol Profibus FMS (Field bus Message Specification), which was
tailored for demanding communication tasks, was specified. Subsequently in 1993, the specification for
the simpler and thus considerably faster protocol PROFIBUS DP (Decentralised Peripherals) was
completed. Profibus FMS is used for (non deterministic) communication of data between Profibus
Masters. Profibus DP is a protocol made for (deterministic) communication between Profibus masters and
their remote I/O slaves.

There are two variations of PROFIBUS in use today; the most commonly used PROFIBUS DP, and the
lesser used, application specific, PROFIBUS PA:

 PROFIBUS DP (Decentralised Peripherals) is used to operate sensors and actuators via a

centralised controller in production (factory) automation applications. The many standard diagnostic
options, in particular, are focused on here.
 PROFIBUS PA (Process Automation) is used to monitor measuring equipment via a process control
system in process automation applications. This variant is designed for use in explosion/hazardous
areas (Ex-zone 0 and 1). The Physical Layer (i.e. the cable) conforms to IEC 61158-2, which allows
power to be delivered over the bus to field instruments, while limiting current flows so that explosive
conditions are not created, even if a malfunction occurs. The number of devices attached to a PA
segment is limited by this feature. PA has a data transmission rate of 31.25 kbit/s. However, PA uses
the same protocol as DP, and can be linked to a DP network using a coupler device. The much faster
DP acts as a backbone network for transmitting process signals to the controller. This means that DP
and PA can work tightly together, especially in hybrid applications where process and factory
automation networks operate side by side.

In excess of 30 million PROFIBUS nodes were installed by the end of 2009. 5 million of these are in the
process industries.

PROFIBUS Protocol (OSI reference model)


7 Application DPV0 DPV1 DPV2

6 Presentation

5 Session
4 Transport Management

3 Network

2 Data Link FDL

1 Physical EIA-485 Optical MBP

Application layer[edit]

To utilise these functions, various service levels of the DP protocol were defined:

 DP-V0 for cyclic exchange of data and diagnosis

 DP-V1 for acyclic data exchange and alarm handling
 DP-V2 for isochronous mode and data exchange broadcast (slave-to-slave communication)
Security layer[edit]

The security layer FDL (Field bus Data Link) works with a hybrid access method that combines token
passing with a master-slave method. In a PROFIBUS DP network, the controllers or process control
systems are the masters and the sensors and actuators are the slaves.

Various telegram types are used. They can be differentiated by their start delimiter (SD):

No data: SD1 = 0x10


Variable length data:

SD2 = 0x68


Fixed length data:

SD3 = 0xA2



SD4 = 0xDC


Brief acknowledgement:

SC = 0xE5


SD: Start Delimiter

LE: Length of protocol data unit, (incl. DA,SA,FC,DSAP,SSAP)

LEr: Repetition of protocol data unit, (Hamming distance = 4)

FC: Function Code

DA: Destination Address

SA: Source Address

DSAP: Destination Service Access Point

SSAP: Source Service Access Point


Default 0 Cyclical Data Exchange (Write_Read_Data)

54 Master-to-Master SAP (M-M Communication)

55 Change Station Address (Set_Slave_Add)

56 Read Inputs (Rd_Inp)

57 Read Outputs (Rd_Outp)

58 Control Commands to a DP Slave (Global_Control)

59 Read Configuration Data (Get_Cfg)

60 Read Diagnostic Data (Slave_Diagnosis)

61 Send Parameterization Data (Set_Prm)

62 Check Configuration Data (Chk_Cfg)

Note: SAP55 is optional and may be disabled if the slave doesn't provide non-volatile storage memory for
the station address.

PDU: Protocol Data Unit (protocol data)

FCS: Frame Checking Sequence

ED: End Delimiter (= 0x16 !)

The FCS is calculated by simply adding up the bytes within the specified length. An overflow is ignored
here. Each byte is saved with an even parity and transferred asynchronously with a start and stop bit.
There may not be a pause between a stop bit and the following start bit when the bytes of a telegram are
transmitted. The master signals the start of a new telegram with a SYN pause of at least 33 bits (logical
"1" = bus idle).
Bit-transmission layer[edit]

Three different methods are specified for the bit-transmission layer:

 With electrical transmission pursuant to EIA-485, twisted pair cables with impedances of
150 ohms are used in a bus topology. Bit rates from 9.6 kbit/s to 12 Mbit/s can be used. The cable
length between two repeaters is limited from 100 to 1200 m, depending on the bit rate used. This
transmission method is primarily used with PROFIBUS DP.
 With optical transmission via fiber optics, star-, bus- and ring-topologies are used. The distance
between the repeaters can be up to 15 km. The ring topology can also be executed redundantly.
 With MBP (Manchester Bus Powered) transmission technology, data and field bus power are fed
through the same cable. The power can be reduced in such a way that use in explosion-hazardous
environments is possible. The bus topology can be up to 1900 m long and permits branching to field
devices (max. 60 m branches). The bit rate here is a fixed 31.25 kbit/s. This technology was specially
established for use in process automation for PROFIBUS PA.

For data transfer via sliding contacts for mobile devices or optical or radio data transmission in open
spaces, products from various manufacturers can be obtained, however they do not conform to any

PROFIBUS DP uses two core screened cable with a violet sheath, and runs at speeds between 9.6kbit/s
and 12Mbit/s. A particular speed can be chosen for a network to give enough time for communication with
all the devices present in the network. If systems change slowly then lower communication speed is
suitable, and if the systems change quickly then effective communication will happen through faster
speed. The RS485 balanced transmission used in PROFIBUS DP only allows 126 devices to be
connected at once; however, more devices can be connected or the network expanded with the use of
hubs or repeaters.

PROFIBUS PA is slower than PROFIBUS DP and runs at fixed speed of 31.2kbit/s via blue sheathed two
core screened cable. The communication may be initiated to minimise the risk of explosion or for the
systems that intrinsically need safe equipment. The message formats in PROFIBUS PA are identical to

Note: PROFIBUS DP and PROFIBUS PA should not be confused with PROFINET.

Ethernet is a family of computer networking technologies for local area networks (LANs)
and metropolitan area networks(MANs). It was commercially introduced in 1980 and first standardized in
1983 as IEEE 802.3,[1] and has since been refined to support higher bit rates and longer link distances.
Over time, Ethernet has largely replaced competing wired LAN technologies such as token ring,FDDI,
and ARCNET. The primary alternative for contemporary LANs is not a wired standard, but instead a
wireless LAN standardized asIEEE 802.11 and also known as Wi-Fi.

The Ethernet standards comprise several wiring and signaling variants of the OSI physical layer in use
with Ethernet. The original10BASE5 Ethernet used coaxial cable as a shared medium. Later the coaxial
cables were replaced with twisted pair and fiber optic links in conjunction with hubs or switches. Over the
course of its history, Ethernet data transfer rates have been increased from the original 3megabits per
second to the latest 100 gigabits per second, with 400 Gbit/s expected by 2017.

Systems communicating over Ethernet divide a stream of data into shorter pieces called frames. Each
frame contains source and destination addresses and error-checking data so that damaged data can be
detected and re-transmitted. As per the OSI model, Ethernet provides services up to and including
the data link layer.

Since its commercial release, Ethernet has retained a good degree of backward compatibility. Features
such as the 48-bit MAC address and Ethernet frame format have influenced other networking protocols.

Bridging and switching[edit]

Patch cables with patch fields of two Ethernet switches

Main articles: Ethernet switch and Bridging (networking)

While repeaters could isolate some aspects of Ethernet segments, such as cable breakages, they still
forwarded all traffic to all Ethernet devices. This created practical limits on how many machines could
communicate on an Ethernet network. The entire network was onecollision domain, and all hosts had to
be able to detect collisions anywhere on the network. This limited the number of repeaters between the
farthest nodes. Segments joined by repeaters had to all operate at the same speed, making phased-in
upgrades impossible.
To alleviate these problems, bridging was created to communicate at the data link layer while isolating the
physical layer. With bridging, only well-formed Ethernet packets are forwarded from one Ethernet
segment to another; collisions and packet errors are isolated. At initial startup, Ethernet bridges (and
switches) work somewhat like Ethernet repeaters, passing all traffic between segments. By observing the
source addresses of incoming frames, the bridge then builds an address table associating addresses to
segments. Once an address is learned, the bridge forwards network traffic destined for that address only
to the associated segment, improving overall performance.Broadcast traffic is still forwarded to all network
segments. Bridges also overcame the limits on total segments between two hosts and allowed the mixing
of speeds, both of which are critical to deployment of Fast Ethernet.

In 1989, the networking company Kalpana introduced their EtherSwitch, the first Ethernet switch.[h] This
worked somewhat differently from an Ethernet bridge, where only the header of the incoming packet
would be examined before it was either dropped or forwarded to another segment. This greatly reduced
the forwarding latency and the processing load on the network device. One drawback of this cut-through
switching method was that packets that had been corrupted would still be propagated through the
network, so a jabbering station could continue to disrupt the entire network. The eventual remedy for this
was a return to the original store and forward approach of bridging, where the packet would be read into a
buffer on the switch in its entirety, verified against its checksum and then forwarded, but using more
powerful application-specific integrated circuits. Hence, the bridging is then done in hardware, allowing
packets to be forwarded at full wire speed.

When a twisted pair or fiber link segment is used and neither end is connected to a repeater, full-
duplex Ethernet becomes possible over that segment. In full-duplex mode, both devices can transmit and
receive to and from each other at the same time, and there is no collision domain. This doubles the
aggregate bandwidth of the link and is sometimes advertised as double the link speed (for example,
200 Mbit/s).[i] The elimination of the collision domain for these connections also means that all the link's
bandwidth can be used by the two devices on that segment and that segment length is not limited by the
need for correct collision detection.

Since packets are typically delivered only to the port they are intended for, traffic on a switched Ethernet
is less public than on shared-medium Ethernet. Despite this, switched Ethernet should still be regarded
as an insecure network technology, because it is easy to subvert switched Ethernet systems by means
such as ARP spoofing and MAC flooding.

The bandwidth advantages, the improved isolation of devices from each other, the ability to easily mix
different speeds of devices and the elimination of the chaining limits inherent in non-switched Ethernet
have made switched Ethernet the dominant network technology.
Advanced networking

A core Ethernet switch

Simple switched Ethernet networks, while a great improvement over repeater-based Ethernet, suffer from
single points of failure, attacks that trick switches or hosts into sending data to a machine even if it is not
intended for it, scalability and security issues with regard tobroadcast radiation and multicast traffic, and
bandwidth choke points where a lot of traffic is forced down a single link.[citation needed]

Advanced networking features in switches and routers combat these issues through means
including spanning-tree protocol to maintain the active links of the network as a tree while allowing
physical loops for redundancy, port security and protection features such as MAClock down and
broadcast radiation filtering, virtual LANs to keep different classes of users separate while using the same
physical infrastructure, multilayer switching to route between different classes and link aggregation to add
bandwidth to overloaded links and to provide some measure of redundancy.

IEEE 802.1aq (shortest path bridging) includes the use of the link-state routing protocol IS-IS to allow
larger networks with shortest path routes between devices. In 2012, it was stated by David Allan and
Nigel Bragg, in 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging Design and Evolution: The Architect's Perspective that
shortest path bridging is one of the most significant enhancements in Ethernet's history. [30]
Modbus is a serial communications protocol originally published by Modicon (now Schneider Electric) in
1979 for use with its programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Simple and robust, it has since become a de
facto standard communication protocol, and it is now a commonly available means of connecting
industrial electronic devices.[1] The main reasons for the use of Modbus in the industrial environment are:

 developed with industrial applications in mind

 openly published and royalty-free
 easy to deploy and maintain
 moves raw bits or words without placing many restrictions on vendors

Modbus enables communication among many (approximately 240) devices connected to the same
network, for example a system that measures temperature and humidity and communicates the results to
a computer. Modbus is often used to connect a supervisory computer with a remote terminal unit (RTU)
in supervisory control and data acquisition(SCADA) systems. Many of the data types are named from its
use in driving relays: a single-bit physical output is called a coil, and a single-bit physical input is called
a discrete input or a contact.

The development and update of Modbus protocols has been managed by the Modbus
Organization[2] since April 2004, when Schneider Electric transferred rights to that organization. [3] The
Modbus Organization is an association of users and suppliers of Modbus compliant devices that seeks to
drive the adoption and evolution of Modbus.

Communication and devices[edit]

Each device intended to communicate using Modbus is given a unique address. In serial and MB+
networks, only the node assigned as the Master may initiate a command. On Ethernet, any device can
send out a Modbus command, although usually only one master device does so. A Modbus command
contains the Modbus address of the device it is intended for. Only the intended device will act on the
command, even though other devices might receive it (an exception is specific broadcastable commands
sent to node 0 which are acted on but not acknowledged). All Modbus commands contain checksum
information, to allow the recipient to detect transmission errors. The basic Modbus commands can instruct
an RTU to change the value in one of its registers, control or read an I/O port, and command the device
to send back one or more values contained in its registers.

There are many modems and gateways that support Modbus, as it is a very simple protocol and often
copied. Some of them were specifically designed for this protocol. Different implementations use wireline,
wireless communication, such as in the ISM band, and even short message service (SMS) or General
Packet Radio Service (GPRS). One of the more common designs of wireless networks makes use
of Mesh networking. Typical problems that designers have to overcome include high latency and timing
Frame format[edit]

All Modbus variants choose one of the following frame formats.[1]

Modbus RTU frame format

Name Length (bits) Function

Start 28 At least 3 1⁄2 character times of silence (mark condition)

Address 8 Station address

Function 8 Indicates the function code; e.g., read coils/inputs

Data n×8 Data + length will be filled depending on the message type

CRC 16 bits Checksum

End 28 At least 3 1⁄2 character times of silence between frames

Modbus ASCII frame format

Name Length (char.) Function

Start 1 Starts with colon ( : ) (ASCII hex value is 0x3A )

Address 2 Station address

Function 2 Indicates the function codes like read coils / inputs

Data n Data + length will be filled depending on the message type

LRC 2 Checksum

End 2 Carriage return – line feed (CR/LF) pair (ASCII values of 0x0D & 0x0A)

Modbus TCP frame format

Name Length (bytes) Function

Transaction identifier 2 For synchronization between messages of server & client

Protocol identifier 2 Zero for Modbus/TCP

Length field 2 Number of remaining bytes in this frame

Unit identifier 1 Slave address (255 if not used)

Function code 1 Function codes as in other variants

Data bytes n Data as response or commands

Unit identifier is used with Modbus/TCP devices that are composites of several Modbus devices, e.g. on
Modbus/TCP to Modbus RTU gateways. In such case, the unit identifier tells the Slave Address of the
device behind the gateway. Natively Modbus/TCP-capable devices usually ignore the Unit Identifier.

The byte order is Big-Endian (first byte contains MSB).

Supported function codes[edit]

The various reading, writing and other operations are categorised as follows. [5] The most primitive reads
and writes are shown in bold. A number of sources use alternative terminology, for example Force Single
Coil where the standard uses Write Single Coil.[6]

Modbus function codes

Function type Function name

Physical Discrete Inputs Read Discrete Inputs 2

Bit access
Internal Bits or Physical Coils Read Coils 1
Write Single Coil 5

Write Multiple Coils 15

Physical Input Registers Read Input Registers 4

Read Holding Registers 3

Write Single Register 6

16-bit Write Multiple Registers 16

Internal Registers or Physical
Output Registers
Read/Write Multiple

Mask Write Register 22

Read FIFO Queue 24

Read File Record 20

File Record Access

Write File Record 21

Read Exception Status 7


Diagnostic 8
Get Com Event Counter 11

Get Com Event Log 12

Report Slave ID 17

Read Device Identification 43

Encapsulated Interface
Other 43


Almost all implementations have variations from the official standard. Different varieties might not
communicate correctly between equipment of different suppliers. Some of the most common variations

 Data types
 Floating point IEEE
 32-bit integer
 8-bit data
 Mixed data types
 Bit fields in integers
 Multipliers to change data to/from integer. 10, 100, 1000, 256 ...
 Protocol extensions
 16-bit slave addresses
 32-bit data size (1 address = 32 bits of data returned.)
 Word swapped data
Optical fiber
An optical fiber (or optical fibre) is a flexible, transparent fiber made of extruded glass (silica) or
plastic, slightly thicker than a human hair. It can function as a waveguide, or “light pipe”,[1] to transmit light
between the two ends of the fiber.[2] The field of applied science andengineering concerned with the
design and application of optical fibers is known as fiber optics.

Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, where they permit transmission over longer
distances and at higherbandwidths (data rates) than wire cables. 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, includingsensors 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 ortransverse 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 1,000 meters (3,300 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 carefully spliced together with the cores perfectly aligned.
A mechanical splice holds the ends of the fibers together mechanically, while fusion splicing uses heat to
fuse the ends of the fibers together. Special optical fiber connectors for temporary or semi-permanent
connections are also available.


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 fewrepeaters.

The per-channel light signals propagating in the fiber have been modulated at rates as high as
111 gigabits per second (Gbit/s) by NTT,[23][24] although 10 or 40 Gbit/s is typical in deployed
systems.[25][26] In June 2013, researchers demonstrated transmission of 400 Gbit/s over a single channel
using 4-mode orbital angular momentum multiplexing.[27]

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 WDMsystems as of 2008). As of 2011 the record for bandwidth on a single
core was 101 Tbit/s (370 channels at 273 Gbit/s each).[28] The record for a multi-core fiber as of January
2013 was 1.05 petabits per second. [29] In 2009, Bell Labs broke the 100 (petabit per second)×kilometer
barrier (15.5 Tbit/s over a single 7000 km fiber).[30]

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.[31]

Fibers are often also used for short-distance connections between devices. For example, most high-
definition televisions offer a digital audio optical connection. This allows the streaming of audio over light,
using the TOSLINK protocol.


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

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. In contrast, highly
localized measurements can be provided by integrating miniaturized sensing elements with the tip of the
fiber.[32] These can be implemented by various micro- and nanofabrication technologies, such that they do
not exceed the microscopic boundary of the fiber tip, allowing such applications as insertion into blood
vessels via hypodermic needle.
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.

Power transmission[edit]

Optical fiber can be used to transmit power using a photovoltaic cell to convert the light into
electricity.[33] While this method of power transmission is not as efficient as conventional ones, it is
especially useful in situations where it is desirable not to have a metallic conductor as in the case of use
near MRI machines, which produce strong magnetic fields.[34] Other examples are for powering
electronics in high-powered antenna elements and measurement devices used in high-voltage
transmission equipment.

Principle of operation[edit]

An overview of the operating principles of the optical fiber

An optical fiber is a cylindrical dielectric waveguide (nonconducting waveguide) that transmits light along
its axis, by the process of total internal reflection. The fiber consists of a core surrounded by
a cladding layer, both of which are made of dielectric materials. 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.
Index of refraction[edit]
Main article: Refractive index

The index of refraction (or refractive index) is a way of measuring the speed of light in a material. Light
travels fastest in a vacuum, such as in outer space. The speed of light in a vacuum is about 300,000
kilometers (186,000 miles) per second. The refractive index of a medium is calculated by dividing the
speed of light in a vacuum by the speed of light in that medium. The refractive index of a vacuum is
therefore 1, by definition. A typical singlemode fiber used for telecommunications has a cladding made of
pure silica, with an index of 1.444 at 1500 nm, and a core of doped silica with an index around
1.4475.[39]The larger the index of refraction, the slower light travels in that medium. From this information,
a simple rule of thumb is that a signal using optical fiber for communication will travel at around
200,000 kilometers per second. To put it another way, the signal will take 5 milliseconds to travel 1000
kilometers in fiber. Thus a phone call carried by fiber between Sydney and New York, a 16,000-kilometer
distance, means that there is a minimum delay of 80 milliseconds (about 1/12 of a second) between when
one caller speaks and the other hears. (The fiber in this case will probably travel a longer route, and there
will be additional delays due to communication equipment switching and the process of encoding and
decoding the voice onto the fiber).

Total internal reflection[edit]

Main article: Total internal reflection

When light traveling in an optically dense medium hits a boundary at a steep angle (larger than the critical
angle for the boundary), the light is completely reflected. This is called total internal reflection. This effect
is used in optical fibers to confine light in the core. Light travels through the fiber core, bouncing 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, only light that enters the fiber within a certain range of angles can
travel down the fiber without leaking out. This range of angles is called the acceptance cone of the fiber.
The size of this acceptance cone is a function of the refractive index difference between the fiber's core
and cladding.

In simpler terms, there is a maximum angle from the fiber axis at which light may enter the fiber so that it
will propagate, or travel, in the core of the fiber. The sine of this maximum angle is the numerical
aperture (NA) of the fiber. Fiber with a larger NA requires less precision to splice and work with than fiber
with a smaller NA. Single-mode fiber has a small NA.
Multi-mode fiber[edit]

The propagation of light through amulti-mode optical fiber.

A laser bouncing down an acrylicrod, illustrating the total internal reflection of light in a multi-mode optical

Main article: Multi-mode optical 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.

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.

Single-mode fiber[edit]

The structure of a typical single-mode fiber.

1. Core: 8 µm diameter
2. Cladding: 125 µm dia.
3. Buffer: 250 µm dia.
4. Jacket: 400 µm dia.

Main article: Single-mode optical 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).

Special-purpose fiber[edit]

Some special-purpose optical fiber is constructed with a non-cylindrical core and/or cladding layer,
usually with an elliptical or rectangular cross-section. These include polarization-maintaining fiber and
fiber designed to suppress whispering gallery mode propagation. Polarization-maintaining fiber is a
unique type of fiber that is commonly used in fiber optic sensors due to its ability to maintain the
polarization of the light inserted into it.

Photonic-crystal fiber is made with a regular pattern of index variation (often in the form of cylindrical
holes that run along the length of the fiber). Such fiber uses diffraction effects instead of or in addition to
total internal reflection, to confine light to the fiber's core. The properties of the fiber can be tailored to a
wide variety of applications.

Mechanisms of attenuation[edit]

Light attenuation by ZBLAN and silica fibers

Main article: Transparent materials

Attenuation in fiber optics, also known as transmission loss, is the reduction in intensity of the light beam
(or signal) as it travels through the transmission medium. Attenuation coefficients in fiber optics usually
use units of dB/km through the medium due to the relatively high quality of transparency of modern
optical transmission media. The medium is usually a fiber of silica glass that confines the incident light
beam to the inside. Attenuation is an important factor limiting the transmission of a digital signal across
large distances. Thus, much research has gone into both limiting the attenuation and maximizing the
amplification of the optical signal. Empirical research has shown that attenuation in optical fiber is caused
primarily by both scattering and absorption. Single-mode optical fibers can be made with extremely low
loss. Corning's SMF-28 fiber, a standard single-mode fiber for telecommunications wavelengths, has a
loss of 0.17 dB/km at 1550 nm.[40] For example, an 8 km length of SMF-28 transmits nearly 75% of light at
1550 nm. It has been noted that if ocean water was as clear as fiber, one could see all the way to the
bottom even of the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean, a depth of 36,000 feet. [41]

Light scattering[edit]

Specular reflection

Diffuse reflection

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. This is called diffuse reflection orscattering, and it is typically characterized by wide
variety of reflection angles.
Light scattering depends on the wavelength of the light being scattered. Thus, limits to spatial scales of
visibility arise, depending on the frequency of the incident light-wave and the physical dimension (or
spatial scale) of the scattering center, which is typically in the form of some specific micro-structural
feature. Since visible light has a wavelength of the order of one micrometer (one millionth of a meter)
scattering centers will have dimensions on a similar spatial scale.

Thus, attenuation results from the incoherent scattering of light at internal surfaces and interfaces. In
(poly)crystalline materials such as metals and ceramics, in addition to pores, most of the internal surfaces
or interfaces are in the form of grain boundaries that separate tiny regions of crystalline order. It has
recently been shown that when the size of the scattering center (or grain boundary) is reduced below the
size of the wavelength of the light being scattered, the scattering no longer occurs to any significant
extent. This phenomenon has given rise to the production of transparent ceramic materials.

Similarly, the scattering of light in optical quality glass fiber is caused by molecular level irregularities
(compositional fluctuations) in the glass structure. Indeed, one emerging school of thought is that a glass
is simply the limiting case of a polycrystalline solid. Within this framework, "domains" exhibiting various
degrees of short-range order become the building blocks of both metals and alloys, as well as glasses
and ceramics. Distributed both between and within these domains are micro-structural defects that
provide the most ideal locations for light scattering. This same phenomenon is seen as one of the limiting
factors in the transparency of IR missile domes.[42]

At high optical powers, scattering can also be caused by nonlinear optical processes in the fiber. [43][44]

UV-Vis-IR absorption[edit]

In addition to light scattering, attenuation or signal loss can also occur due to selective absorption of
specific wavelengths, in a manner similar to that responsible for the appearance of color. Primary material
considerations include both electrons and molecules as follows:

1) At the electronic level, it depends on whether the electron orbitals are spaced (or "quantized") such that
they can absorb a quantum of light (or photon) of a specific wavelength or frequency in the ultraviolet
(UV) or visible ranges. This is what gives rise to color.

2) At the atomic or molecular level, it depends on the frequencies of atomic or molecular vibrations or
chemical bonds, how close-packed its atoms or molecules are, and whether or not the atoms or
molecules exhibit long-range order. These factors will determine the capacity of the material transmitting
longer wavelengths in the infrared (IR), far IR, radio and microwave ranges.

The design of any optically transparent device requires the selection of materials based upon knowledge
of its properties and limitations. The Lattice absorption characteristics observed at the lower frequency
regions (mid IR to far-infrared wavelength range) define the long-wavelength transparency limit of the
material. They are the result of the interactive coupling between the motions of thermally induced
vibrations of the constituent atoms and molecules of the solid lattice and the incident light wave radiation.
Hence, all materials are bounded by limiting regions of absorption caused by atomic and molecular
vibrations (bond-stretching)in the far-infrared (>10 µm).

Thus, multi-phonon absorption occurs when two or more phonons simultaneously interact to produce
electric dipole moments with which the incident radiation may couple. These dipoles can absorb energy
from the incident radiation, reaching a maximum coupling with the radiation when the frequency is equal
to the fundamental vibrational mode of the molecular dipole (e.g. Si-O bond) in the far-infrared, or one of
its harmonics.

The selective absorption of infrared (IR) light by a particular material occurs because the selected
frequency of the light wave matches the frequency (or an integer multiple of the frequency) at which the
particles of that material vibrate. Since different atoms and molecules have different natural frequencies
of vibration, they will selectively absorb different frequencies (or portions of the spectrum) of infrared (IR)

Reflection and transmission of light waves occur because the frequencies of the light waves do not match
the natural resonant frequencies of vibration of the objects. When IR light of these frequencies strikes an
object, the energy is either reflected or transmitted.