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Fiber vs. Metallic
 Advantages:  Disadvantages
• Larger bandwidth • Initial cost of
• Immune to cross- installation high
talk • Brittle
• Immune to static • Maintenance and
interference repair more
• Do not radiate RF difficult and more
• spark free expensive
• No corrosion,
more environment
Typical Fiber Optical
Communication System
Elements of a Fiber Data Link

 Transmitter emits light pulses (LED

or Laser)
 Connectors and Cables passively
carry the pulses
 Receiver detects the light pulses
Transmitter Receiver
 For long links, repeaters are needed
to compensate for signal loss

Fiber Fiber Fiber Fiber

Repeater Repeater Repeater
Optical Fiber
 Core
• Glass or plastic with a higher
index of refraction than the
• Carries the signal
 Cladding
• Glass or plastic with a lower index
of refraction than the core
 Buffer
• Protects the fiber from damage
and moisture
 Jacket
• Holds one or more fibers in a
Singlemode Fiber
 Singlemode fiber has a core diameter
of 8 to 9 microns, which only allows
one light path or mode
• Images from arcelect.com (Link Ch 2a)

Index of
Multimode Step-Index Fiber
 Multimode fiber has a core diameter of
50 or 62.5 microns (sometimes even
• Allows several light paths or modes
• This causes modal dispersion – some modes take
longer to pass through the fiber than others
because they travel a longer distance

Index of
• See animation at link Ch 2f refraction
Multimode Graded-Index Fiber
 The index of refraction gradually
changes across the core
• Modes that travel further also move faster
• This reduces modal dispersion so the
bandwidth is greatly increased

Index of
 Absorption
• interaction of light with electrons & molecule vibration
 Rayleigh Scattering
• caused by compositional fluctuations in glass material.
Energy escapes not converted
 Material Fabrication
• caused impurities (transition metal ions)
 Fiber Fabrication
• caused by fiber imperfections (defects/stresses) Leads
to Mie scattering which is λ independent
 Deployment/Environmental
• caused by bends and microbends
Leads to mode conversions
Three Types of Dispersion

 Dispersion is the spreading out of a

light pulse as it travels through the
 Three types:
• Modal Dispersion
• Chromatic Dispersion
• Polarization Mode Dispersion (PMD)
Modal Dispersion
 Modal Dispersion
• Spreading of a pulse because different
modes (paths) through the fiber take
different times
• Only happens in multimode fiber
• Reduced, but not eliminated, with
graded-index fiber
Chromatic Dispersion
 Different wavelengths travel at
different speeds through the fiber
 This spreads a pulse in an effect
named chromatic dispersion
 Chromatic dispersion occurs in both
singlemode and multimode fiber
• Larger effect with LEDs than with lasers
• A far smaller effect than modal dispersion
Polarization Mode Dispersion
 Light with different polarization can
travel at different speeds, if the fiber
is not perfectly symmetric at the
atomic level
 This could come from imperfect
circular geometry or stress on the
cable, and there is no easy way to
correct it
 It can affect both singlemode and
multimode fiber.
Light Sources
� Light Emitting Diode (LED)

•� simple construction and drive circuitry

•� best for short distances, modest bit rates, and low channel capacity

� Semiconductor Laser Diode

•� high drive currents and complex circuitry

•� produce high power for higher bit rates and long distances
Light Sources: LED
•� Usually a P-N junction aluminium-gallium arsenide (AlGaAs) or

• Gallium-arsenide-phosphide (GaAsP)

• Spontaneous emission through recombination of electrons and holes

• Works in forward bias, energy released as a photon

• A photon = a quantum of E/M wave energy

Light Sources: Laser Diode
•Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

� A laser diode Is an LED with two important differences:

� (1) The operating current is much higher in order to produce OPTICAL


� (2) Two of the ends of the LD are cleaved parallel to each other. These
ends act as perfectly aligned mirrors which reflect the light back and forth
through the "gain medium" in order to get as much amplification as possible

� The typical response time of a laser diode Is 0.5 ns. The line width is
around 2 nm with a typical laser power of 10's of milliwatts. The wavelength
of a laser diode can be 850 nm, 1300 nm, or 1500 nm.

� Must detect down to the order of 10-14 W

� Need high conversion efficiency between light and electrical energy

� Must respond fast for high bandwidth

� Must have low-noise power and good light-collecting properties

� Ideally, they must operate at low voltage, be easy to use, be robust

and immune to changes in ambient conditions, have a long life, be
reliable and inexpensive

� Two devices stand out:

� Positive-intrinsic-negative (PIN) diodes
� Avalanche photodiodes (APD)
Detection Procedure
� Photons collide with the electrons in the
valence band
� The electrons absorb photon energy, hv, and
cross the band gap into the conduction band
with charge q.
� Incident optical power, P, transfers to the
device with efficiency η.
� The generated photocurrent is
� We resort to mean values because the whole
photo-detection process is stochastic.
Detectors: PIN Diode
Detectors: The APD Device
Detectors: Characteristics

� Responsivity
� Measure of conversion efficiency, a ratio of the output current to the
input optical power (A/W)

� Dark current
� Leakage current flowing with no light input

� Transit time
� Time it takes a photo-induced carrier to cross the depletion

� Spectral response
� A relative spectral response vs. wavelength or frequency
curve displays the range or system length possible for a
given wavelength.