Innovations in Communications
Optical fibers, or simply known as fiber optics, refers to the vehicle and the technology affiliated to the transmission of data as pulses of light moving forward on either a glass or plastic wire (Tech Target). These fibers are almost as thin as a human hair (Encarta). The data is transmitted by means of light as it enters at one end of the cable and exits with minimal light loss, even if the cable has a curvature (Encarta).
A rudimentary fiber optics device would be comprised of a transmitting mechanism, the agent from where the signal emanates, the optical fiber cable, the vehicle of that light, and the receiver, which catches the light and transforms it to electrical signals (Encarta). Optical fibers have been used on a variety of applications, aside from the traditional usage of the transmission of light from source to receiver (Rudiger Paschotta).
More uses of this technology would include the transmission of encrypted information, temperature measurements or strain ratings in a particular setting, or in producing and amplifying light from lasers (Paschotta). Optical fibers can carry more data on a single fiber than a traditional copper wire (Tech Target). Furthermore, Optical fibers are not burdened with interference from electromagnetic signals and do not need signals on the wire to be boosted (Tech Target). Optical Fibers: A history of light travelling on glass
The foundations for the research for the development of the technology in the field of fiber optics can be traced to the works of individuals in the invention and research fields as it went through the centuries (Ezine). Each of these individuals contributed in one way or another in the evolution of the technology and use of optical fiber technology (Ezine). These contributions shaped the system of fiber optics that is in current use (Ezine). These innovations are now found in the appliances and mediums that we use today, such as televisions, data transmission systems and data bases (Ezine).
But the essential development of fiber optic technology can be attributed to Frenchman Claude Chappe (Ezine). Chappe developed the first semaphore mechanism in 1792 (Ezine). The system included the construction of towers equipped with semaphores (Ezine). These semaphores were used in relaying messages from one tower to another (Ezine). This system resembles an optical telegraph mechanism, by which utilizes revolving shutters to relay information by means of 196 symbols (Ezine). In 1854, in line with this discovery, came the discovery of the principle of total reflection (Ezine).
British physicist John Tyndall in 1854 observed that light can be guided through a stream of water (Ezine). In 1870 Tyndall conducted an experiment by using a jet of water that spouted from one container to another with an accompanying beam of light (Force, Incorporated). By the use of his experiment, Tyndall was able to prove that light used a principle called “internal reflection” as it followed a particular course (Force). Tyndall used a ray of sunlight as water flowed out of the first container, seen here in the illustration (Force). The light, as it hit the water, negotiated a zigzag path through the curling path of the water (Force).
This simple experiment was the first scientific foray into the field regarding the coursed light transmission (Force). At its most elementary, the guiding of that light is the main function of fiber optical cables (Paschotta). In essence, the function of the cable is to keep the light concentrated over long distances (Paschotta). The main operation of a fiber optic cable is the prevention of the loss of the amount of light in the cable (Encarta). The tendency of the light is to naturally scatter (Paschotta). The next discovery in the technology of fiber optics was discovered by William Wheeling in 1880 (David Goff).
Wheeling developed the principle of the practice of “piping light”(Goff). Wheeling stated that the use of pipes line with mirrors carrying light emanating a single source, an electric arc, for example, will be able to illuminate many rooms using the same principle that water is transported to different locations through a network of pipes (Goff). But the concept of piping light was never fully developed, as the introduction of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb and the deficiencies in Wheeling’s proposal gave way to its demise (Goff).
By the middle of the 1900’s, the development of fiber optic technology experienced a significant amount of notice and research (Goff). In the 1950’s, fiber optics technology was further boosted by the introduction of the fiberscope (Goff). The mechanism was designed to transmit images was first made with the use of all-glass fibers (Goff). The machine was the invention of Brian O’Brien working with the American Optical Company with his colleague, Narinder Kapany (Goff). Kapany, in 1956, was the first to coin the term “fiber optics”at the Imperial College in London (Goff).
Early on, it was observed that the use of all-glass fibers were prone to heavy loss of light in the transmission of the light (Goff). This, in turn, would limit the distance that the light would be able to travel (Goff). To remedy this situation, scientists developed glass coverings for the glass fibers themselves (Goff). The core, or the internal part of the fiber, is the component that is responsible for the transmission of the light (Goff). The coating of the fiber, or the cladding, is tasked with precluding the escape of the light from the fiber by reflecting back the light to within the confines of the core (Goff).
This is in accordance with the parameters set down in Snell’s law, which states that the angle by which the light beam is reflected is inversely proportionate to the refractive properties of the two elements (Goff). In this case, the angle is dependent on the refractive properties of the cladding and the core (Goff). Since the cladding has an inferior refractive index than the core, the light will cause the light to be reflected back to the core of the fiber (Goff). The modern concept of fiber optics technology began in the 1970’s (Ezine). In that decade, Drs.
Robert Maurer, Donald Keck, and Peter Schultz, employed at Corning, were responsible for the invention of a strand that could satisfactorily carry signals without any loss or reduction in the power and quality of the signal (Ezine). In the latter part of the decade, General Telephone and Electronics laid out the first ever fiber optics system for live traffic (Ezine). Spanning 1. 5 miles, the system was laid in a downtown area of Chicago exclusively to handle telecommunication purposes (Ezine). Laser technology The next step in the evolution of the fiber optics industry was the development of lasers (Goff).
In this respect, it is to be stated that the laser diode (LD) and the light-emitting diode (LED) would have enough focused power to be able to be used in small enough areas for the use of fiber optics (Goff). Gordon Gould, in 1957, made the use of lasers well-known after describing it as an intense light source during his college years as a graduate student at Columbia University (Goff). On the science front, Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, staff at Bell Laboratories, advocated the use of lasers in the science community (Goff).
The development of laser technology went through a time of innovation with the invention of the helium-neon and the ruby lasers in the 1960’s (Goff). In 1962, the semiconductor lasers were developed, and are the type in current use (Goff). Lasers, by virtue of their higher frequency modulations, lasers soon gained importance in the fiber optics industry (Goff). Engineers in the field of communications noted that light can carry up to 10,000 more information than even the highest radio signals (Goff). Fiber optics operation
As stated earlier, the main concern in the operation of a fiber optical system is the minimization in the reduction of light (Paschotta). The transmission of the light is dependent on this operating scheme (Encarta). When a light ray passes through a space between two transparent objects, a certain amount of that light would reflect off that substance, while some of the light would proceed on its course (Encarta). The amount of reflected light and the light that enters in the other substances is dependent on the angle of the boundary at which the light hits (Encarta).
For example, if a ray from the sun hits the ocean surface at almost a vertical angle, a large portion of the light will enter the water (Encarta). At the time of the setting of the sun, the light that usually hits the surface would be at a superficial angle, so most of the light from the sun is reflected of the surface (Encarta). The technology of fiber optics utilizes of special conditions to ensure that all of the light between the surface and the atmosphere above is reflected back (Encarta). This is to ensure maximum optimization of the light (Encarta).
The principle earlier discovered and stated by the British physicist Tyndall of total internal reflection permits optical fibers to hold the light that they are carrying (Encarta). When a ray of light enters a dense element into a lesser serried substance, there exists what is called a critical angle, over which all of the light is reflected from the face of in between the elements (Encarta). The principle of total internal reflection occurs when light hits the border between the substances (Encarta). This will take operation when the angle is greater than the critical angle (Encarta).
The light peregrinating inside the core of the optical fiber hits the veneer at the angle of incidence that is greater than the critical angle (Encarta). It is then that all the light is reflected into the core of the fiber without a reduction in the amount of light (Encarta). As long as the curvature of the fiber is not too great, the light cannot hit the outer skin of the fiber at an angle lesser than the critical angle (Encarta). In this manner, the light travelling in the fiber can be capable of transmission over great distances without a reduction in the amount (Encarta).
Let us try to simplify the illustration. If we were to bring a beam of light on a narrow hallway, the light would be in a straight line (Craig Freudenrich). This is because of the property of light to tread a straight line (Freudenrich). But if that passageway has a curve in it, one could simply place a mirror at the point of the curve to direct the light to towards the angle of the curve (Freudenrich). But what the passageway possesses a number of bends and with many bends? One could line the walls of the way with mirrors so that the light will bounce off each mirror (Freudenrich).
Then the light, bouncing off the mirrors, will be able to negotiate the bends of the hallway without the loss of the intensity of the light (Freudenrich). That, in essence, is the principle involved in the operation of a fiber optic cable (Freudenrich). If we were to analogize the illustration of the fiber optic cable and the hallway, we could state that the light travels down the passageway, or the core, of the cable (Freudenrich). The light reflects off the surface of the cable, or the walls of the hallway that was lined with mirrors, or the cladding of the cable (Freudenrich).
It can be stated that the function of modern fiber optics systems would greatly be compromised if not for the incorporation of the cladding component (Ezine). In the construction of the fiber optics cable, the cladding has two purposes (Ezine). One, the cladding serves as a shield for the reflection surface, to protect it from outside contamination (Ezine). Two, it protects the signal from “cross talk” or the cords coming together (Ezine). The cladding is further wrapped in another shell, or sleeve, further adding to its protection (Ezine).
Since the cladding, or the mirrors on the walls, does not absorb any of the light, then the light will be able to journey great ways without a reduction or loss of the light (Freudenrich). However, there is no assurance that no total loss of the light will occur within the confines of the fiber (Freudenrich). Most the generation loss that occurs to the light travelling in the fiber is not resultant to the quality of the signal itself, but can be traced to the imperfections of the glass used in the manufacture of the cable (Freudenrich).
Apart from the quality of the glass, the distance that must be travelled also contributes to the degradation of the light in the cable (Freudenrich). Recent developments Clemson University scientists have been able to invent optical fiber cables with a silicon core (Science Daily). Silica is one of the more inexpensive materials for the production of fiber optics cables, mainly because that the main element in the manufacture of silica is sand (Integrated Publishing). This new discovery will in the future be viable alternatives to all-glass fiber cables (Science Daily).
The main driver in the research was the reduction in the power requirements for the operation of computers (Science Daily). Also, it is envisioned that the new fiber cables will increase efficiency in systems with electronic and video mechanisms (Science Daily). It has been observed that over time, the use of optical fibers have greatly increased, as they have been carrying an ever increasing amount of phone calls, television signals and messages on the Internet (Science Daily). One main advantage in the use of optical fibers is the higher bandwidth that is inherent in the fibers (Science Daily).
This feature can translate to say, faster rates in the downloading capacity for computers accessing the Internet (Science Daily). The innovation of the silicon fibers would mean that more miniature devices can be manufactured that possesses low power outlay requirements (Science Daily). Currently, the utilization of optical fiber technology is concentrated in the communications industry (Encarta). In past years, the advantages of the use of optical fibers have greatly been apparent over earlier types of systems communications (Encarta).
As earlier stated, fiber optics technology have large amount of available bandwidth (Science Daily). This feature would allow the rapid transfer of information from one location to another (Encarta). Also, communication systems using fiber optics would be able to send information and other information over great lengths without the use of repeater systems (Encarta). In glass fiber optics systems, transmission of signals would require the use of repeater mechanisms at fixed distances within the route of transmission (Tech Target).
In the field of communications, the repeater would the device that would receive signals in electromagnetic form and then resuscitates the signal for the next leg of the transmission (Tech Target). In the field of digital media, the use of the repeater would be to overcome the loss of signal strength while the information is being transmitted (Tech Target). Attenuation, or sometimes more commonly termed as signal loss, is a natural occurrence with all types of communication systems (Tech Target). This usually occurs if the signal is transmitted over long distances (Tech Target).
The loss of signals is measured in units called decibels (Tech Target). If the transmission distance is long, then single mode fibers are utilized, in contrast to shorter distances, where multi-mode fibers are normally used (Tech Target). These repeaters are usually utilized to compensate for the reduction of signal strength if the signal is to travel long distance (Encarta). Compared to electrical carriage networks, repeater systems are usually spaced about 100 kilometers from each other (Encarta). Electrical networks would normally be placed at every 1. 5 kilometers (Encarta).
At present, a number of large telecommunication companies have been using this technology in the delivery of services to their clients (Encarta). Advantages and Disadvantages Among the advantages of this system is, as earlier stated, is the amount of increased bandwidth of the fiber optic system as compared to the current systems of communications in use (Encarta). But as for its advantages, there are also disadvantages in the utilization of fiber optics technology. Since the technology is fairly new, the parts for the manufacture of these systems are quite expensive (Ezine).
Also, transmitters and receivers used in the system are still more prohibitive than the conventional electrical mode (Ezine). Lack of standards that are published and accepted also have contributed to the lack of acceptance of the new technology (Ezine). Lastly, most of the electronics in use are not compatible with fiber optic systems (Matthew Roloff). But many industry leaders are moving to overcome the dismal acceptance of fiber optics systems (Integrated). Committees have been established to set guidelines and standards for the usage of fiber optics systems (Integrated).
Also, the price of installation of these systems is steadily going down due to the increase in the utilization of the new system (Integrated). As the new system is developed, the cost benefit of installation will be greatly enhanced as the cost of the system will be more inexpensive than the electrical system (Integrated). Works Cited Science Daily. “Reduce computer power usage? Silicon optical fiber made practical”. Science Daily (2008). <http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2008/10/081028074333. htm> Pascotta, Rudiger. “Optical fiber technology: physical principles and applications of different types of optical fibers”.
<http://www. wiley-vch. de/berlin/journals/op/08-02/OP0802_S52-S55. pdf. > Fotosearch. “ Fiber optics photos”. <http://www. fotosearch. com/photos-images/fiber-optics. html> Roloff, Matthew. “Advantages and disadvantages of fiber optics compared to copper”. <http://web. bryant. edu/~ehu/h364proj/fall_98/roloff/advdis. html> Integrated Publishing. “Advantages and disadvantages of fiber optics”. <http://www. tpub. com/neets/tm/105-4. htm> Freudenrich, Ph. D. , Craig. “How Fiber optics work”. <http://electronics. howstuffworks. com/fiber-optic2. htm> Goff, David, R. “A brief history of fiber optic technology”.
<http://www. fiber-optics. info/fiber-history. htm> Ezine. “History of fiber optics”. <http://ezinearticles. com/? History-of-Fiber-Optics&id=1273633> Tech Target. “What is optical fiber”? <http://searchtelecom. techtarget. com/sDefinition/0,,sid103_gci212716,00. html> MSN Encarta. “Fiber optics”. <http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_761566545/Fiber_Optics. html> Pictures: Freudenrich, Ph. D. , Craig. “ Illustration: diagram of total internal reflection in an optical fiber”. Integrated Publishing. “Basic structure of an optical fiber”. Goff, David, R. “ John Tyndall’s experiment”.Sample Essay of StudyFaq.com