Related topics: light · physical review letters

Physicists create turnstile for photons

Physicists from Germany, Denmark, and Austria have succeeded in creating a kind of turnstile for light in glass fibers that allows the light particles to only pass through one at a time

Anti-resonant hollow-core optical fiber reduces 'noise'

A new hollow optical fiber greatly reduces the "noise" interfering with the signals it transmits compared to the single-mode fibers now widely used, researchers at the University of Rochester report.

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller

Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and King's College London cleared the obstacle that had prevented the creation of electrically driven nanolasers for integrated circuits. The approach, reported ...

Plasma guides maintain focus of lasers

In science fiction, firing powerful lasers looks easy—the Death Star can just send destructive power hurtling through space as a tight beam. But in reality, once a powerful laser has been fired, care must be taken to ensure ...

Using air to amplify light

In a promising breakthrough for the future of communications, EPFL researchers have developed a technology that can amplify light in the latest hollow-core optical fibers.

May the force be with you: Detecting ultrafast light by its force

A McGill research team has developed a new technique to detect nano-sized imperfections in materials. They believe this discovery will lead to improvements in the optical detectors used in a wide range of technologies, from ...

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Optical fiber

An optical fiber (or fibre) is a glass or plastic fiber that carries light along its length. Fiber optics is the overlap of applied science and engineering concerned with the design and application of optical fibers. Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than other forms of communications. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with less loss, and they are also immune to electromagnetic interference. Fibers are also used for illumination, and are wrapped in bundles so they can be used to carry images, thus allowing viewing in tight spaces. Specially designed fibers are used for a variety of other applications, including sensors and fiber lasers.

Light is kept in the core of the optical fiber by total internal reflection. This causes the fiber to act as a waveguide. Fibers which support many propagation paths or transverse modes are called multi-mode fibers (MMF), while those which can only support a single mode are called single-mode fibers (SMF). Multi-mode fibers generally have a larger core diameter, and are used for short-distance communication links and for applications where high power must be transmitted. Single-mode fibers are used for most communication links longer than 550 metres (1,800 ft).

Joining lengths of optical fiber is more complex than joining electrical wire or cable. The ends of the fibers must be carefully cleaved, and then spliced together either mechanically or by fusing them together with an electric arc. Special connectors are used to make removable connections.

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