What is fibre optics? (How fibre optics works)

By: Westman Communications
Posted: February 27, 2020 12:00Internet

Learn what fibre optics means and how it works!

Have you ever used the internet? Of course, you’re reading this article right now, thanks to the internet! Well, the article you are trying to load, or that email you’ve sent has to have a way to get from one location to another. This is where fibre optics comes in. Fibre optics surrounds the idea of information traveling from one place to another.

How does it work?

Fibre optics uses light to send that email you wrote to a new location. The email’s data is pulsed through fibre strands in the form of light, where it bounces off the inside of the cable’s walls until the light reaches its final location.

If you want a more visual example, think of the light as a bobsleigh going down its run. The bobsleigh travels at a vast speed down its path, where it occasionally bumps the walls and edges of the track to stay on its path until it reaches its finish. 

Now think of numerous bobsleighs going down tracks at the same time, and you have a fibre optics connection! This example is exactly how the light pulses travel within the fibre cable. The pulsed light travels at extremely high speeds through the fibre cable, where it too bounces off the walls of the cable until it reaches the location it was sent to. There are only a few differences between the two, one being that the light’s “tracks” are incredibly thin strands of glass called optical fibres. These fibres are found inside a fibre optics cable. The other difference is that the light travels both up and down the cable to deliver the information wherever it needs to go. 

How unbelievably small are these optical fibres, you might ask? The size of a human hair! That means that the light pulses in the fibre optics cable would be extremely hard to see with the human eye. That being said - the fibre optics that are used in residential areas use low light levels that are too low to damage the human eye, but we recommend that you not to look into the end of a fibre and save that for trained personnel.

How it looks

If you want a visual idea of what the optics lights looks like, travel no further than your childhood memories. Ever see one of these lamps?

This essentially uses the same idea. The light travels down the plastic strands of the lamp, except for this time, it produces a fantastic light show.

Uses for fibre optics

Shooting light down a cable seems like a cool trick, but there are many uses for it. Thank fibre optics and its technology for bringing you the fastest internet speeds and the greater choice for TV channels and programs you have access to today. Fibre optics also has a hand in the medical industry, enhancing scanning and in the military with their equipment – but those details can be saved for another time. The technologies used by fibre optics show just how many ways that these beams of light can carry many types of information and the difference that they can make.


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