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Dublin Institute of Technology

Dr. Gerald Farrell


Optical Communications Systems
School of Electronic and
Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited
Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Introduction to Optical Fibre
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Optical Fibre Construction
Cladding
Core
Fibre consists of a core surrounded by a cladding.
Most common material is silica glass
Core diameters range from 7 microns to 1 mm
1 micron is one thousandth of a millimetre
Basic Fibre
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
How does Light Travel in a
Fibre?
Source: Master 2_1
Transmitter
Receiver
Optical Fibre
Light ray trapped in
the core of the fibre
Electrical input
signal
Electrical
output signal
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Refraction
In a fibre the basic mechanism of propagation results from so-called refraction
The refractive index of a medium is defined as the ratio of velocity of light in
vacuum to the velocity of light in the medium
When a light ray is incident on the interface between two media of differing
refractive indices, refraction takes place
Refraction results in a change of direction for a light ray
Air
Water
Apparent
position
Real
position
Example: Refraction
between air and water
Light
source
Light ray
observed
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Material Refractive Index Speed of Light
Air 1.00028 299,706 km/s
Ice 1.310 228,847 km/s
Water 1.333 224,900 km/s
Perspex 1.495 200,528 km/s
Crown Glass 1.52 197,230 km/s
Flint Glass 1.62 185,055 km/s
Diamond 2.42 123,880 km/s
Typical fibre core (MM) 1.487 201,607 km/s
Various Refractive Indices
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Refraction and Snells Law
When a ray is incident on the interface between two media of differing refractive
indices, refraction takes place
Snells law defines the relationship between refractive indices and the light ray
angles
Consider an example with a light ray travelling from one medium to another
Snells Law for Refraction
n1 sin 1 = 1 = n2 sin 2 2
Medium 2
Refractive
Index n2
Medium 1
Refractive
Index n1
2 2
1 1
Beam changes direction
at interface thus
Assumes n1 > n2
so 2 > 1 2 > 1
Normal
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Total Internal Reflection and the
Critical Angle
At some angle of incidence 1, 1, called the
critical angle c, the angle of refraction 2 2 is 90
degrees. If 1 1 is greater than the critical angle then the
ray returns or is refracted back into the high refractive
index medium
The principle of Total Internal Reflection (TIR)
Critical Angle
sin =
n
n
2

c
1
Medium 2
Refractive
Index n2
Medium 1
Refractive
Index n1
1 1
Assumes n1 > n2
Refractive
Index n2
Refractive
Index n1
2 = 90 2 = 90 deg.
1 1
Refractive
Index n2
Refractive
Index n1
1 1
1 < c 1 = c 1 > c
2 > 90 2 > 90 deg.
2 < 90 2 < 90 deg.
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Refractive Index in a Fibre
Simplest and earliest form of fibre
Core refective index is N1 and cladding refractive index is N2.
Step index name arises from the "step" change in refractive index
N1 N2
Refractive index profile
Core
Diameter
Cladding
Diameter
Core
Cladding
0
Fibre side view Fibre end view
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Propagation in an Optical Fibre
Cladding
Core
(i)
(ii)
A
B
C
Fibre Axis
Recall that the refractive index of core is greater than that of cladding
Light ray (i) propagates because at B it undergoes
total internal reflection (TIR) and is reflected back into the core
Light ray (ii) does not undergo TIR and is thus lost in the cladding
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Conditions for Propagation
Angle must be > so called critical angle c for the fibre if TIR is to take
place
Using trigonometry it is possible to define a maximum value for 1, 1, called
the acceptance angle
Only light rays which enter the core with an angle less than the acceptance
angle will propagate
Core only shown
Fibre Axis

1 1
2 2
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Range of angles
over which light will
be transmitted
Acceptance angle
Range of angles
over which light will
not be transmitted
Only light rays which enter the core with an angle less
than the acceptance angle will propagate
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Acceptance Angle Analysis (I)
Core
Fibre Axis
1 1

Cladding
2 2
Assuming is equal to c, the critical angle, what is the value of 1? 1?

2
90 =
o
c
But
and by Snells Law
n n
0 1 1 2
sin sin =
n0 is the refractive
index of air =1
so

1
1
1
90 =

sin ( sin( )) n
c
o
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Acceptance Angle Analysis (II)
now

1
1
1
90 =

sin ( sin( )) n
c
o
[ ]

1
1
1
2
=

sin
cos n
c
Simple trigonometry

1
1
1
2
2
1
2
1
=

sin
n
n
n
Simple trigonometry
[ ]
1
1
2
2
1 2
=

sin
n n
This last value is the maximum value that 1 1 can take on if TIR is to take
place, it is therefore called the fibre acceptance angle.
hence
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Acceptance Angle Visualised
The acceptance angle is the half angle of a cone,
visualised at the fibre input.
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Fibre Numerical Aperture
Numerical aperture (NA) is defined as the sine of the acceptance angle for
a fibre. Thus the NA can be written as:
Assumes n0, the refractive index of air is approximately 1.
Formula holds down to a core diameter of about 8 microns. Beneath this
a guided mode approach to propagation is needed.
Sample problem:
A silica optical fibre with a core diameter large enough to be considered by a
ray diagram approach has a core refractive index of 1.5 and a cladding
refractive index of 1.47
Determine the critical angle, the acceptance angle and the numerical
aperture for the fibre
Answer: critical angle 78.5 deg, NA 0.3 acceptance angle 17.4 deg
NA ( - ) = n n
1
2 2
2
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Skew Ray
Propagation
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Skew Rays in Fibre
Meridional rays are not the only type of ray which propagate in a fibre.
Skew rays do not pass through the fibre centre axis.
Skew rays greatly outnumber meridional rays.
Skew rays follow a helical path within the fibre.
Skew ray propagation is difficult
to visualise, but looking at the fibre
end on we see a 2d projection of the
rays. Seen in this way reflection takes
place with an angle to the radius
With meridional rays at the fibre output
the angle depends on the input angle.
For skew rays this is not so, instead the
output angle depends on the number of
reflections undergone. Thus skew rays tend
to make the light output from a fibre more
uniform.
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Acceptance Angle for Skew
Rays
Analysis for skew rays is much more involved.
Ray direction defined in two planes as shown.
Acceptance angle for skew rays
is the angle of reflection for skew rays within the fibre, defined previously
Since cos is < 1, acceptance angle is higher for skew rays.
=

Sin
1
1
( - ) n n
2 2
2
Cos
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz
Optical Communications Systems, Dr. Gerald Farrell, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering
Unauthorised usage or reproduction strictly prohibited, Copyright 2002, Dr. Gerald Farrell, Dublin Institute of Technology
Skew Ray Problem
An optical fibre in air has an NA of 0.4. Compare the acceptance angle for
meridional rays with that for skew rays, which change direction by 100
degrees at each reflection.
Acceptance angle for meridional rays = 23.6 degrees
Solution
Skew rays change direction by 100 degrees so is 50 degrees
Using the formula for the acceptance angle for skew rays gives:
Skew ray acceptance angle = 38.5 degrees
Notice that the acceptance angle for skew rays is higher than that for meridional rays
Source: Master 2_1
18/03/02 1.2 Introduction to Fibre.prz