Fiber optic cable and its types

What is fiber optic cable?

The Fiber optic cable is a cylindrical-shaped glass fiber that contains any transparent dielectric medium through which the photons are passed in the form of light pulses. This photon contains the information needed to be passed. It Utilizes light pulses to transmit data over a glass or plastic fiber. It Offers high bandwidth, immunity to electromagnetic interference, and long-distance transmission capabilities. It is commonly used in high-speed network backbones, long-distance data transmission, and telecommunications.

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Fiber optic cable

Fiber Optic cable mainly consists of the :

  • Outer jacket: It is an outer covering made of polyethylene PE that is used for protecting the cable from environmental weather conditions.
  • Plastic buffer: It is a plastic coating that protects the inner fiber. The typical diameter of the fiber after the coating is 250-300 um.
  • cladding: It is an outer optical material surrounding the core having a reflecting index lower than the core and cladding, This helps to maintain the light within the core during the entire internal reflection phenomenon.
  • core: It is the center tube of a very thin size of around 5um to 100 um diameter. It is made of an optically transparent dielectric medium and carries the light transmitter to the receiver.

How does the fiber optic cable work?

Fiber optic cables transmit data using light pulses. The light signals are carried through a core of glass or plastic fibers in these devices. A laser or LED source injects light into one end of the cable when data is sent through it. The light travels through the cable while reflecting off its walls, guided by the total internal reflection of the core. High-speed data transmission over a great distance is made possible by this process, which guarantees little signal loss and interference. The light pulses are interpreted by a detector at the receiving end, which then transforms them into electrical signals for processing. features of fiber optics are High bandwidth, low latency, and immunity from electromagnetic interference.

Types of Fiber optic cable

  • Single-Mode fiber: In the Single-mode fiber, Only one mode of light travels through a small core that has a diameter of around 5um. The difference in refractive index between the core and the cladding is negligible. This fiber is suitable for long-distance transmission with low dispersion and attenuation.
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Single-mode Fiber
  • Multi-mode fiber: In this multi-mode fiber, Multiple light modes are passed through a core. This core is basically of a larger diameter compared to the single-mode fiber i.e. 40um. The difference between the refractive index is greater than the single-mode fiber. It is used for short-distance transmission but suffers from higher dispersion and attenuation.

The two most common types of multi-mode fiber are:

  • Step-Index multi-mode fiber: The refractive index of both, the core and cladding remains constant across its diameter. Due to this, Light rays enter the fiber with different angles to the fiber axis and take different paths which leads to modal dispersion.
Step-Index fiber

Graded-Index Multi-Mode Fiber: The refractive index in the graded-index fiber decreases gradually as we move away from the center and finally drops to the level of the refractive index of the cladding. Due to the change in refractive index, the Light rays follow curved paths which reduces the chances of modal dispersion.

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Graded-Index Fiber


Fiber optic cables have a wide range of applications due to their ability to transmit data at high speeds over long distances while maintaining signal integrity.

  1. Telecommunications: Fiber optic cables are extensively used in telecommunications networks to transmit voice, data, and video signals. The form of modern communication systems we use today, including telephone networks, internet service providers (ISPs), and cable television networks is majorly contributed by Fiber optic cables.
  2. Internet Services: Fiber optic cables have high-speed internet connections, such as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) installations. These provide connections that have faster internet speeds and support bandwidth-intensive applications like video streaming and online gaming.
  3. Data Centers: Data centers majorly rely on fiber optic cables for their high-speed data transmission needs. Within data centers, fiber connections provide quick data transfer between servers and storage devices while providing low latency and high dependability.
  4. Underwater Communications: A large number of fiber optic cables are laid on the ocean floor to facilitate global communication and internet connectivity. These cables can transmit data across vast distances under the sea from one continent to another continent.
  5. Medical Imaging: Fiber optics play an important role in medical imaging devices like endoscopes and medical lasers. They enable high-resolution imaging and accurate surgical procedures to be performed with little invasiveness.

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