A fiber optic cable is a cable that contains a single or a cluster of optical fibers. Optical fiber is a flexible, highly durable, transparent fiber made from plastic or glass (silica) with a diameter slightly bigger than that of human hair. Other materials used for fiber optics includes flourozirconate, flouroaluminate, chalcogenide glasses, and other crystalline materials like sapphire; some of these materials are used for special designs that are intended for special fiber optic applications. During the transmission process, light passes through this fiber in a process called “refraction”, which allows it to move to the other end of the fiber.
Uses of Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber optic cable is widely used in the communication technology; its role is to allow data to travel in higher bandwidth (data rates) over long distances. Fiber optics is used instead of wires because it eliminates interference from other electronic devices (electromagnetic wave interference). Fiber optic cable is also used for illumination, and is commonly known as fiber optic lightings. Fiber optics also plays a significant role in the medical scene. For one thing, endoscopy uses fiber optics to illuminate internal organs and transfer or relay images through a fiber optic camera.
Aside from these, some especially designed fiber optic cables are used for a variety of other applications, which includes optic sensors and fiber lasers. In the audio technology, optics is favored to transmit lossless audio signal; it often produces a crisp, high fidelity sound.
Optical fiber is made up of a core and a cladding layer. In practical fibers, cladding is usually coated with polyimide or acrylate polymer. This coating protects the core from any damages but it does not contribute to its optical waveguide properties. Sheathing can be added depending on the type of application. The core is the glass/plastic tube that limits and keeps the light through refraction in a total internal reflection. Modern fiber optic cables can be a cluster of fiber optics up to a thousand fibers in a single cable.
Optical cables are inherently strong but their strength is drastically reduced due to some factors ranging from the microscopic level as well as some environmental conditions. Microscopic flaws can be traced back to manufacturing defects as well. Mishandling can also deteriorate the initial strength of the materials, which can suffer from dynamic fatigue, static fatigue, and zero-stress aging. Glass fragments can also be a problem if they get in contact with and get embedded on someone’s skin. Care is needed to ensure that the glass fragments produced when cleaving fiber optic cables are properly collected and disposed of appropriately.
Infrared lights are invisible to the human eye. In data communication and other optic laser application, this can pose a serious threat for technicians. If the level of infrared concentration is high enough, it can easily damage the eyes, particularly when magnification like microscope or lenses are used to inspect any defects in optic cables.
Although fiber optics is a breakthrough in many fields and application, cables come with expensive price tags. Thus, Internet connections and medical equipment that rely on fiber optic technology also come at a cost.