Preface v
1. Introduction 1
1.1 Fiber Optics and Optoelectronics 1
1.2 Historical Developments 1
1.3 A Fiberoptic Communication System 3
1.4 Advantages of Fiberoptic Systems 6
1.5 Emergence of Fiber Optics as a Key Technology 7
1.6 The Role of Fiber Optics Technology 9
1.7 Overview of the Text 10
Appendix A1.1: Relative and Absolute Units of Power 12
Appendix A1.2: Bandwidth and Channel Capacity 13
PART I: FIBER OPTICS
2. Ray Propagation in Optical Fibers 17
2.1 Introduction 17
2.2 Review of Fundamental Laws of Optics 17
2.3 Ray Propagation in StepIndex Fibers 18
2.4 Ray Propagation in Gradedindex Fibers 22
2.5 Effect of Material Dispersion 24
2.6 The Combined Effect of Multipath and Material Dispersion 28
2.7 Calculation of rms Pulse Width 29
Summary 31
Multiple Choice Questions 32
Review Questions 34
3. Wave Propagation in Planar Waveguides 36
3.1 Introduction 36
3.2 Maxwells Equations 37
3.3 Solution in an Inhomogeneous Medium 39
3.4 Planar Optical Waveguide 43
3.5 TE Modes of a Symmetric StepIndex Planar Waveguide 46
3.6 Power Distribution and Confinement Factor 53
Summary 56
Multiple Choice Questions 57
Review Questions 59
viii Contents
After reading this chapter you will be able to understand the following:
l Ray propagation in stepindex fibers
l Ray propagation in gradedindex fibers
l Effect of multipath time dispersion
l Effect of material dispersion
l Calculation of rms pulse width
2.1 INTRODUCTION
Fiber optics technology uses light as a carrier for communicating signals. Classical
wave theory treats light as electromagnetic waves, whereas the quantum theory treats
it as photons, i.e., quanta of electromagnetic energy. In fact, this is what is known as
the waveparticle duality in modern physics.
Both points of view are valid and valuable in their respective domains. However,
it will be easier to understand the propagation of light signals through optical fibers if
we think of light as rays that follow a straightline path in going from one point to
another. Ray optics employs the geometry of a straight line to explain the phenomena
of reflection, refraction, etc. Hence, it is also called geometrical optics. Let us review,
in brief, certain laws of geometrical optics, which aid the understanding of ray
propagation in optical fibers.
Refracted
ray
f2
f2 = p /2
Medium 2 n2 n2
Medium 1 n1 n1
f1 f1 > fc f1
f1 = fc
Incident ray
(a) (b) (c)
Fig. 2.1 (a) Refraction of a ray of light. (b) Critical ray incident at f1 = fc and refracted at
f2 = p /2. (c) Total internal reflection (f1 > fc).
As n1 > n2, if we increase the angle of incidence f1, the angle of refraction f2 will
go on increasing until a critical situation is reached, when for a certain value of
f1 = fc, f2 becomes p /2, and the refracted ray passes along the interface. This angle f1
= f c is called the critical angle. If we substitute the values of f1 = f c and
f2 = p /2 in Eq. (2.2), we see that n1sinfc = n2sin(p /2) = n2. Thus
sinfc = n2 /n1 (2.3)
If the angle of incidence f1 is further increased beyond fc, the ray is no longer
refracted but is reflected back into the same medium [see Fig. 2.1(c)]. (This is ideally
expected. In practice, however, there is always some tunnelling of optical energy
through this interface. The wave carrying away this energy is called the evanescent
wave. This can be explained in terms of electromagnetic theory, discussed in Chapters
3 and 4.) This is called total internal reflection. It is this phenomenon that is responsible
for the propagation of light through optical fibers.
There are several types of optical fibers designed for different applications. We
will discuss these in Chapter 4. For the present discussion, we will begin with ray
propagation in the simplest kind of optical fiber.
Radius r
2a 2b
Core
Refractive n2 (n1)
n1
index n
Cladding (n2)
(a) (b)
qm
Medium (na) fc f > f Axis
q c
am a a Core (n1)
b Cladding (n2)
(c)
Fig. 2.2 Basic structure of a stepindex fiber: (a) refractive index profile,
(b) cross section (front view), (c) ray propagation (side view)
The material used for the production of an optical fiber is either silica (glass) or
plastic. Assume that such a fiber is placed in a medium (normally air) of refractive
index na (n1 > n2 > na). If a ray of light enters from the flat end of the fiber at some
angle a, from the medium into the core, it will bend towards the normal, making an
angle of refraction, q. This ray then strikes the corecladding interface at an angle of
incidence f. If f > fc, the ray will undergo total internal reflection. It will suffer
multiple reflections at the corecladding interface and emerge out of the fiber at the
other end.
What is the allowed range of a ? The propagation of rays by total internal reflection
requires f to be greater than fc and hence q to be less than qm = p /2 fc. Thus, the
angle of incidence a should be less than a certain angle am. This maximum value of
am will correspond to the limiting value of qm = p /2 fc.
20 Fiber Optics and Optoelectronics
Applying Snells law at the coremedium (air) interface, we get for a = am and
corresponding q = qm,
nasinam = n1sinqm = n1cosfc
for the incident ray at the corecladding interface. From Eq. (2.3), we know that
sinfc = n2 /n1. Therefore,
1/ 2
n22
cosfc = [1 sin2fc]1/2 = 1 
n12
f fc
L
a am
Core L/co qm
q qm sq
m
Cladding
Fig. 2.3 Trajectories of two extreme rays inside the core of a stepindex fiber
DT n1 n1  n2
= (2.7)
L n2 c
This is referred to as multipath time dispersion of the fiber.
Example 2.1 If the stepindex fiber of Fig. 2.3 has a core of refractive index 1.5, a
cladding of refractive index 1.48, and a core diameter of 100 mm, calculate, assuming
that the fiber is kept in air, the (a) NA of the fiber; (b) angles am, qm, and fc; and
(c) pulse broadening per unit length (DT/L) due to multipath dispersion.
Solution
n1 = 1.5, n2 = 1.48, 2a = 100 mm, and na = 1.
(a) NA = n12  n22 = 2.25  2.19 = 0.244
(b) NA = nasinam = 1 sinam = 0.244
Therefore, am = 14.13
Also nasinam = n1sinqm
or 0.244 = 1.5 sinqm
22 Fiber Optics and Optoelectronics
Therefore, qm = sin1
0.244 = 9.36
1.5
n2
Further, fc = sin1 = 80.63
n1
Example 2.2 For the optical fiber of Example 2.1, what are the minimum and
maximum number of reflections per metre for the rays guided by it?
Solution
The ray that passes along the axis of the fiber, that is, the one for which a = 0, will not
be reflected, but the ray that follows the most oblique path, that is, is incident at an
angle a very nearly equal to (but less than) am, will suffer maximum number of
reflections. These can be calculated using the geometry of Fig. 2.3.
a
tanqm =
L
a 50 10 6 m
Hence L= = = 3.03 104 m
tanq m tan( 9.36 )
Therefore, the maximum number of reflections per metre would be
1
= 1648 m1
2L
All other rays will suffer reflections between these two extremes of 0 and
1648 m1.
a 1/ 2
n1 = n0 1  2 D r for r a
n(r) = a (2.8)
n2 = n0 [1  2 D ]1/ 2 = nc for b r a
Ray Propagation in Optical Fibers 23
where n(r) is the refractive index at radius r, a is the core radius, b is the radius of the
cladding, n0 is the maximum value of the refractive index along the axis of the core,
D is the relative refractive index difference, and a is called the profile parameter.
Such a fiber is called a gradedindex (GI) fiber. For a = 1, the index profile is triangular;
for a = 2, the profile is parabolic; and for a = , the profile is that of a SI fiber, as
shown in Fig. 2.4.
n(r)
a=
a=2
a=1
1/ 2
r2
= n0 2 D 1  (2.9)
a2
Core
n(r)
Cladding
(a) (b)
Fig. 2.5 (a) Variation of n with r, (b) ray traversal through different layers of the
core
In this configuration, the multipath time dispersion will be less than that in SI
fibers. This is because the rays near the core axis have to travel shorter paths compared
to those near the corecladding interface. However, the velocity of the rays near the
axis will be less than that of the meridional rays because the former have to travel
through a region of high refractive index (v = c/n). Thus, both the rays will reach the
other end of the fiber almost simultaneously, thereby reducing the multipath dispersion.
If the refractive index profile is such that the time taken for the axial and the most
oblique ray is same, the multipath dispersion will be zero. In practice, a parabolic
profile (a = 2), shown in Fig. 2.6, reduces this type of dispersion considerably.
r r
b
a
n0
n(r)
(a) (b)
Fig. 2.6 (a) The parabolic profile of a GI fiber, (b) ray path in such a fiber
If w (= 2p f ) is the angular frequency of the wave (in rad/sec), f being the frequency in
hertz, and b (= 2p /lm) is the propagation constant, lm being the wavelength of light in
the medium (which is equal to l/n; l is the freespace wavelength), then the phase
velocity of the wave is also given by
vp = w / b (2.11)
Thus, using Eqs (2.10) and (2.11), we get
vp = c/n = w /b
cb
or n= (2.12)
w
At this point, it is important to know that any signal superposed onto a wave does
not propagate with the phase velocity vp of the wave, but travels with a group velocity
vg given by the following expression:
dw 1
vg = = (2.13)
d b d b /d w
In a nondispersive medium, vp and vg are same, as vp is independent of the
frequency w ; but in a dispersive medium, where vp is a function of w,
1 vp
vg = = (2.14)
d b /d w 1  ( w /v p )( dv p /dw )
Thus a signal, which is normally a light pulse, will travel through a dispersive medium
(e.g., the core of the optical fiber) with speed vg. Therefore, for such a pulse, we may
define a group index ng such that
ng = c/vg (2.15)
Let us substitute for vg from Eq. (2.13) in Eq. (2.15) to get
db d wn d
ng = c =c = ( nw )
dw dw c dw
dn
=n+ w (2.16)
dw
This is an important expression, relating the group index ng with the ordinary
refractive index or the phase index n.
dn dn d l
Since =
d w d l dw
2p c
and w=
l
dw 2p c
= 
dl l2
26 Fiber Optics and Optoelectronics
c c
Thus vg = = (2.18)
ng ( n  l dn / d l )
A light pulse, therefore, will travel through the core of an optical fiber of length L
in time t given by
t = L = n  l dn L (2.19)
vg dl c
If the spectrum of the light source has a spread of wavelength Dl about l and if the
medium of the core is dispersive, the pulse will spread out as it propagates and will
arrive at the other end of length L, over a spread of time Dt. If Dl is much smaller than
the central wavelength l, we can write
dt L dn dn d2n
Dt = Dl =  l Dl
dl c dl dl dl2
L d2n
= l Dl (2.20)
c dl2
If Dl is the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the peak spectral power of the
optical source at l, then its relative spectral width g is given by
Dl
g= (2.21)
l
If an impulse of negligible width is launched into the fiber, then Dl will be the half
power width t of the output (or the broadened pulse). Thus, the pulse broadening due
to material dispersion may be given by
L d2n
t= g l2
c dl2
t g d2n
or = l2 (2.22)
L c dl2
The material dispersion of optical fibers is quoted in terms of the material dispersion
parameter Dm given by
1 t l d2n
Dm = = (2.23)
L Dl c d l 2
Dm has the units of ps nm1 km1. Its variation with wavelength for pure silica is shown
in Fig. 2.7. The example of pure silica has been chosen because a majority of fibers
are manufactured using silica as the host material.
Ray Propagation in Optical Fibers 27
200
150
Dm (ps nm1 km1)
100
50
50 l = lZD = 1.276 mm
100
0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0
Wavelength (mm)
Fig. 2.7 Material dispersion parameter Dm as a function of l
for pure silica (Pyne & Gambling 1975)
Notice that Dm changes sign at l = lZD = 1.276 mm (for pure silica). This point has
been frequently referred to as the wavelength of zero material dispersion. This
wavelength can be changed slightly by adding other dopants to silica. Thus, the use
of an optical source with a narrow spectral width (e.g., injection laser) around lZD
would substantially reduce the pulse broadening due to material dispersion.
Example 2.3 It is given that for a GaAs LED, the relative spectral width
g at l = 0.85 mm is 0.035. This source is coupled to a pure silica fiber (with
l2(d2n/dl2) = 0.021 for l = 0.85 mm). Calculate the pulse broadening per kilometre
due to material dispersion.
Solution
The pulse broadening per unit length due to material dispersion is given by
t g d2n 0.035
= l2 = 0.021 = 2.45 1012 s m1
L c dl 2 3 108 m s 1
t
or = 2.45 ns km1
L
Example 2.4 Calculate the total pulse broadening due to material dispersion for a
gradedindex fiber of total length 80 km when a LED emitting at (a) l = 850 nm and
(b) l = 1300 nm is coupled to the fiber. In both the cases, assume that Dl
30 nm. The material dispersion parameters of the fiber for the two wavelengths are
105.5 ps nm1 km1 and 2.8 ps nm1 km1, respectively.
Solution
(a) Using Eq. (2.23),
t = DmLDl = 105.5 80 30 = 253,200 ps = 253.2 ns
28 Fiber Optics and Optoelectronics
Example 2.5 In Example 2.4, if we take laser diodes emitting at l = 850 nm and
l = 1300 nm with Dl 2 nm, what will be the magnitude of pulse broadening?
Solution
(a) t = 105.5 80 2 = 16,880 ps = 16.88 ns
(b) t = 2.8 80 2 = 448 ps = 0.448 ns
This example demonstrates the superiority of laser diodes over LEDs. With laser
diodes, pulse broadening can be reduced considerably.
t = [t 0 + t1 + t 2 ]
2 2 2 1/ 2
(2.24a)
Optical fiber
t0 t
Transmitted Received
pulse t1 t2 pulse
The temporal pulse broadening per unit length due to both the effects is then given by
1/ 2
t
t 2 t 2 t 2
= 0 + 1 + 2 (2.24b)
L L L L
where L is the total length of the fiber.
It is also possible to express the same result in terms of the root mean square (rms)
pulse widths. The calculation of the rms pulse width is given in the following section.
Thus, if the transmitted pulse is Gaussian in shape and has an rms width s0 and this
pulse is broadened by both multipath and material dispersion leading to nearly
Gaussian pulses of rms widths s1 and s2, respectively, then the rms width s of the
received pulse is given by (Gowar 2001)
1/ 2
s 2 s 2 s 2
s
= 0 + 1 + 2 (2.25)
L L L L
Example 2.6 Calculate the rms pulse width s of the rectangular pulse shown in
Fig. 2.9 in terms of its FWHM t.
p(t)
p0
p0/2
t
Solution
The total energy in the pulse
t /2
e=

p ( t ) dt = t /2
p0 dt = p0 t
2
t /2 1 t /2
e
1
s2 = t 2 p0 dt  tp0 dt
t / 2 e t / 2
2
t /2 1 t /2
1
= p0 t 2 dt  p0 t dt
p0 t t / 2 p0 t t / 2
1 t 3 t2
= 0=
t 12 12
t t
Thus s= =
12 2 3
Example 2.7 In a typical fiberoptic communication system, the received power
distribution as a function of time t is given by a symmetrical triangular pulse, as
shown in Fig. 2.10. Calculate (a) the total energy in the pulse, (b) the mean pulse
arrival time, and (c) the rms pulse width.
p(t)
p0
p0 /2 t
0
DT t Fig. 2.10 Triangular pulse
Solution
The power p(t) in the pulse varies as follows:
p
p(t) = 0 t , 0 < t < t
t
 p0
= t + 2 p0 , t < t < 2t
t
(a) The total energy in the pulse
t p0 2t
 p ( t ) dt = p0 2  dt
t
e= t dt +
0 t t t
t 2t
p0 t 2 p0 t 2
= + 2 p0 t 
t 2 0 t 2 t
= p0t
Ray Propagation in Optical Fibers 31
t p0 2t p0
1 1
= t 2dt + 2 p0  t t dt
p0 t 0 t p0 t t t
t 2t 2t
1 p0 t 3 1 t2 1 p0 t 3
= + ( 2 p0 ) 
p0 t t 3 0 p0 t t
2 p
0t t 3 t
=t
(c) The rms pulse width s is determined as follows:
1
s2 = t 2 p( t ) dt  [ t ]2
e 
t p0 2t p0
1 1
= t 3dt + 2 p0  t t 2dt  t 2
p0 t 0 t p0 t t t
2t 2t
1 2 t3 1 t4
= t2 +  t
2
4 t 3 t t 2 4 t
t2
=
6
t
or s=
6
SUMMARY
l The refractive index (RI) of a transparent medium is the ratio of the speed of
light in vacuum to the speed of light in the medium:
c
n=
v
l The phenomenon of refraction of light is governed by Snells law:
n1sinf1 = n2sinf2
l An optical fiber is a thin dielectric waveguide made up of a solid cylindrical core
of glass (silica) or plastic of RI n1 surrounded by a coaxial cylindrical cladding
of RI n2. When both n1 and n2 are constant, the fiber is called a stepindex fiber.
32 Fiber Optics and Optoelectronics
l Within an optical fiber, light is guided by total internal reflection. For light
guidance, two conditions must be met: (i) n1 should be greater than n2 and (ii) at
the corecladding interface, the light ray must strike at an angle greater than the
critical angle fc, where
fc = sin1(n2/n1)
This requires that the ray of light must enter the core of the fiber at an angle less
than the acceptance angle am.
nasinam = n1cosfc
l The lightgathering capacity of a fiber is expressed in terms of the numerical
aperture (NA), which is given by
NA = nasinam = ( n12  n22 )1/ 2 = n1 2 D
l When a pulse of light propagates through the fiber, it gets broadened. Pulse
broadening is caused by two mechanisms:
(i) Multipath time dispersion, which is given by
DT n1 n1  n2
=
L n2 c
To some extent, this type of dispersion can be reduced by index grading, i.e.,
by varying the RI of the core in a specific manner. The parabolic profile
gives best results.
(ii) Material dispersion, caused by change in the RI of the fiber material with
wavelength. This is given by
t g d2 n
= l2
L c dl2
l If the power distribution in the pulse as a function of time t is p(t), the total
energy in the pulse is given by
e= 
p ( t ) dt
and its rms width s is given by
1/ 2
1 1
2
s=
e 
t 2 ( pt )dt 
e

tp ( t ) dt
respect to the normal to the interface) for which this ray will undergo total
internal reflection?
(a) 080 (b) 8190 (c) 90180 (d) 180360
2.2 Light is guided within the core of a stepindex fiber by
(a) refraction at the coreair interface.
(b) total internal reflection at the corecladding interface.
(c) total internal reflection at the outer surface of the cladding.
(d) change in the speed of light within the core.
2.3 A stepindex fiber has a core with a refractive index of 1.50 and a cladding with
a refractive index of 1.46. Its numerical aperture is
(a) 0.156 (b) 0.244 (c) 0.344 (d) 0.486
2.4 The optical fiber of Question 2.3 is placed in water (refractive index 1.33). The
acceptance angle of the fiber will be approximately
(a) 10 (b) 15 (c) 20 (d) 25
2.5 The axial refractive index of the core, n0, of a gradedindex fiber is 1.50 and the
maximum relative refractive index difference D is 1%. What is the refractive
index of the cladding?
(a) 1.485 (b) 1.50
(c) It will depend on the profile parameter.
(d) It will depend on the radius of the core.
2.6 An impulse is launched into one end of a 30km optical fiber with a rated total
dispersion of 20 ns/km. What will be the width of the pulse at the other end?
(a) 20 ns (b) 100 ns (c) 300 ns (d) 600 ns
2.7 For a typical LED, the relative spectral width g is 0.030. This source is coupled
to a pure silica fiber with  l2(d2n/dl2)  = 0.020 at the operating wavelength.
What is the pulse broadening per km due to material dispersion?
(a) 2 ps km1 (b) 2 ns km1 (c) 2 ms km1 (d) 2 ms km1
2.8 A pulse of 100 ns halfwidth is transmitted through an optical fiber of length 20
km. The fiber has a rated multipath time dispersion of 10 ns km1 and a material
dispersion of 2 ns km1. What will be the halfwidth of the received pulse?
(a) 100 ns (b) 225 ns (c) 240 ns (d) 340 ns
2.9 A LED is emitting a mean wavelength of l = 0.90 mm and its spectral half
width Dl = 18 nm. What is its relative spectral width?
(a) 0.02 (b) 0.05 (c) 0.90 (d) 18
2.10 A laser diode has a relative spectral width of 2 103 and is emitting a mean
wavelength of 1 mm. What is its spectral halfwidth?
(a) 1 mm (b) 0.2 mm (c) 20 nm (d) 2 nm
Answers
2.1 (b) 2.2 (b) 2.3 (c) 2.4 (b) 2.5 (a)
2.6 (d) 2.7 (b) 2.8 (b) 2.9 (a) 2.10 (d)
34 Fiber Optics and Optoelectronics
REVIEW QUESTIONS
2.1 What are the functions of the core and cladding in an optical fiber? Why should
their refractive indices be different? Would it be possible for the light to be
guided without cladding?
2.2 What is total internal reflection? Why is it necessary to meet the condition of
total internal reflection at the corecladding interface?
2.3 What is acceptance angle? If the optical fiber of Example 2.1 is kept in water
(RI = 1.33), which of the parameters calculated in parts (a), (b), and (c) will
change? What is its new value?
Ans: Only am will change and its new value will be 10.57.
2.4 A stepindex fiber has an acceptance angle of 20 in air and a relative refractive
index difference of 3%. Estimate the NA and the critical angle at the core
cladding interface.
Ans: 0.34, 76
2.5 Define numerical aperture (NA) of a fiber. On what factors does it depend?
2.6 A SI fiber has a numerical aperture of 0.17 and a cladding refractive index of
1.46. Determine (a) the acceptance angle of the fiber when it is placed in water
(the refractive index of water may be taken as 1.33) and (b) the critical angle at
the corecladding interface.
Ans: (a) 7.34 (b) 83.35
2.7 The speed of light in vacuum and in the core of a SI fiber is 3 108 m s1 and
2 108 m s1, respectively. When the fiber is placed in air, the critical angle at
the corecladding interface is 75. Calculate the (a) NA of the fiber and
(b) multipath time dispersion per unit length.
Ans: (a) 0.388 (b) 1.7 1010 s m1
2.8 Explain multipath time dispersion and material dispersion. How can these be
minimized?
2.9 An impulse is launched into an optical fiber and the received pulse is triangular,
as shown in Fig, 2.11. Calculate the (a) total energy in the pulse e, (b) mean
pulse arrival time t , and (c) rms pulse width s.
Ans: (a) p0t, (b) 4/3t (c) t 2 /3
p(t)
p0
p0/2 t
0 t
2t Fig. 2.11
Ray Propagation in Optical Fibers 35
2.10 A plastic fiber of 1 mm diameter has n1 = 1.496 and n2 = 1.40. Calculate its NA
and am when it is placed in (a) air and (b) water.
Ans: (a) 0.5272, 31.81 (b) 0.5272, 23.35
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