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Fiber Optics

Fibre Basics
 Optical fiber is information-carrying
medium made with silica-based glass.

 It consists of two regions : the core and

the cladding.

 The center part of the fiber is called

"core" with refractive index N1 and the
part which surrounds the core with lower
refractive index N2 is called "cladding". 2
Fiber Basics contd..,
 When the light is launched into the fiber, the cladding
confines the lights into the fiber core and the light
travels down the fiber by internal reflection between the
boundaries between the core and the cladding.

Fiber Basics contd..,
 When light is transmitted on a fibre, the most
important consideration is “what kind of light?”
 The electromagnetic radiation that we call light
exists at many wavelengths.
 These wavelengths go from invisible infrared
through all the colors of the visible spectrum to
invisible ultraviolet.
 Because of the attenuation characteristics of
fibre, we are only interested in infrared “light”
for communication applications.
 This light is usually invisible, since the
wavelengths used are usually longer than the
visible limit of around 700 nanometers (nm).
Fiber Basics contd..,
 Only some portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is
visible to (can be detected by) the human eye.
 Electromagnetic radiation in this range of
wavelengths is called visible light or simply light.
 A typical human eye will respond to wavelengths in
air from 400 to 700 nm
 In fiber-optic communications, dark fiber or unlit
fiber (or fibre) is the name given to individual fibers
that have yet to be used within cables that have been
already laid.
 They are hence not yet connected to any device, and
are only there for future usage.
Fiber Basics contd..,
 Fiber size is generally mentioned as
diameter of core followed by diameter of

 50/125μm (European standard) for MM

 62.5/125μm (North American Standard)
for MM fiber and
 9/125μm for SM fiber. 6
Types of Fibers
 There are basically two kinds of fibers as
 Single mode fiber

 Multimode fiber

 Again Multimode fiber can be of two types

 Multimode Step-Index fiber

 Multimode Graded-Index fiber

 The difference between them is in the way

light travels along the fiber.
Refraction of light
 As a light ray passes from one transparent medium to
another, it changes direction.
 This phenomenon is called refraction of light.
 How much that light ray changes its direction depends on
the refractive index of the mediums.

Refractive Index
 Refractive index is the speed of light in a
vacuum (abbreviated c,
c=299,792.458km/second) divided by the
speed of light in a material (abbreviated v).

 Refractive index measures how much a

material refracts light. Refractive index of a
material, abbreviated as n, is defined as

Snell’s Law
 In 1621, a Dutch physicist named Snell derived the relationship
between the different angles of light as it passes from one
transparent medium to another. When light passes from one
transparent material to another, it bends according to Snell's law
which is defined as:

n1sin(θ1) = n2sin(θ2)
n1 is the refractive index of the medium the light is leaving
θ1 is the incident angle between the light beam and the normal
(normal is 90° to the interface between two materials)
n2 is the refractive index of the material the light is entering
θ2 is the refractive angle between the light ray and the normal

Snell’s Law

Total Internal Reflection
 When a light ray crosses an interface from lower RI
into a medium with a higher refractive index, it bends
towards the normal.
 Conversely, light traveling cross an interface from a
higher refractive index medium to a lower refractive
index medium will bend away from the normal.

Critical Angle
 This has an interesting implication: at some angle,
known as the critical angle θc, light traveling
from a higher refractive index medium to a lower
refractive index medium will be refracted at 90°;
in other words, refracted along the interface.
 If the light hits the interface at any angle larger
than this critical angle, it will not pass through to
the second medium at all. Instead, all of it will be
reflected back into the first medium, a process
known as total internal reflection.

Critical Angle
 The critical angle can be calculated from
Snell's law, putting in an angle of 90° for the
angle of the refracted ray θ2. This gives θ1:
θ2 = 90°
sin(θ2) = 1
θc = θ1 = arcsin(n2/n1)
Principle of Operation
 An optical fiber is a cylindrical dielectric
waveguide that transmits light along its axis,
by the process of total internal reflection.
 The fiber consists of a core surrounded by a
cladding layer.
 To confine the optical signal in the core, the
refractive index of the core must be greater
than that of the cladding.
 The boundary between the core and cladding
may either be abrupt, in step-index fiber, or
gradual, in graded-index fiber. 15
Total internal reflection
 Optical fibers are based entirely on the principle of total
internal reflection. This is explained in the following

 Optical fiber is a long, thin strand of very pure glass about

the diameter of a human hair.
 Optical fibers are arranged in bundles called optical
cables and used to transmit light signals over long
The Structure of an Optical
 Typical optical fibers are composed of core,
cladding and buffer coating.
 The core is the inner part of the fiber, which
guides light.
 The cladding surrounds the core completely.
 The refractive index of the core is higher than
that of the cladding, so light in the core that
strikes the boundary with the cladding at an
angle shallower than critical angle will be
reflected back into the core by total internal
reflection. 17
 For the most common optical glass fiber
types, which includes 1550nm single mode
fibers and 850nm or 1300nm multimode
fibers, the core diameter ranges from 8 ~
62.5 µm.
 The most common cladding diameter is 125
 The material of buffer coating usually is soft
or hard plastic such as acrylic, nylon and with
diameter ranges from 250 µm to 900 µm.
 Buffer coating provides mechanical
protection and bending flexibility for the

What is Fiber Mode?
 An optical fiber guides light waves in
distinct patterns called modes.
 Mode describes the distribution of light
energy across the fiber.
 Fibers that carry more than one mode at a
specific light wavelength are called
multimode fibers.
 Some fibers have very small diameter core
that they can carry only one mode which
travels as a straight line at the center of the
core. These fibers are single mode fibers.
 This is illustrated in the following

Multimode Fiber
 Fiber with larger core diameter is called
multimode fiber.
 In a step-index multimode fiber, rays of light
are guided along the fiber core by total
internal reflection.

 When a light is injected in to a fiber there will
be only a finite number of possible paths for
the light to take.
 These paths are called “modes”
 The problem with multimode operation is
that some of the paths taken by particular
modes are longer than other paths.
 This means that light will arrive at different
times according to the path taken. Therefore
the pulse tends to disperse (spread out) as it
travels through the fibre.
 This effect is called as Modal Dispersion. 23

 In multimode step index fiber there is abrupt change
in refractive index between core and cladding as a
result wave changes its direction inside the fiber
 This type of fiber costs less to the manufacturer but
has highest dispersion.,
 This type is generally used for short distances and
low cost applications

 Rays that meet the core-cladding boundary
at a high angle (measured relative to a line
normal to the boundary), greater than the
critical angle for this boundary, are
completely reflected.
 The critical angle (minimum angle for total
internal reflection) is determined by the
difference in index of refraction between the
core and cladding materials.
 Rays that meet the boundary at a low angle
are refracted from the core into the cladding,
and do not convey light and hence
information along the fiber. 26
Multimode Graded Index
 Here layers of glass with smoothly varying refractive indices
comprises the core.
 This causes light rays to bend smoothly as they approach
the cladding, rather than reflecting abruptly from the core-
cladding boundary.
 The resulting curved paths reduce multi-path dispersion
because high angle rays pass more through the lower-index
periphery of the core, rather than the high-index center.
 The index profile is chosen to minimize the difference in
axial propagation speeds of the various rays in the fiber.

 As the core is in centre and has highest
refractive index, axial mode slows down and
higher order mode travels faster. So all
modes arrive at the end of the fiber closer
 This reduces modal dispersion allowing
longer fiber runs or higher rate

Optical Fiber Types

Single mode fibre
 If the fibre core is very narrow compared
to the wavelength of the light in use then
the light cannot travel in different mode
 This kind of fiber is called single mode
 There is no longer any reflection from the
core-cladding boundary but rather the
electromagnetic wave is tightly held to
travel down the axis of the fiber.
Fibre Refractive Index
 Following figure shows the refractive index
profiles of some different types of fiber.

Refractive Index Profile
RI Profile of Multimode Step-Index Fibre
 Here the RI of core and cladding changes abruptly.
RI Profile of Multimode Graded Index Fibre
 Graded index fibre has the same dimensions as step
index fibre.
 The refractive index of the core changes slowly
between the fibre axis and the cladding.
RI Profile of Single-Mode Fibre
 Single-mode fibre is characterized by its narrow core
 This is done to ensure that only one mode can
propagate. 32
evanescent wave
 The waveguide analysis shows that the light
energy in the fiber is not completely confined
in the core.

 Instead, especially in single-mode fibers, a

significant fraction (around 20%) of the light
energy in the bound mode travels in the
cladding as an evanescent wave.

 The most common type
of single-mode fiber has
a core diameter of 8 μm
to 10 μm.
 Core diameter is a
 We can't make the core
too narrow because of
losses at bends in the
Cutoff Wavelength
 It's not strictly correct to talk about “single-mode
fibre” and “multimode fibre” without qualifying it –
although this generally done all the time.
 A fibre is single-mode or multi-mode at a particular
 This single-mode fibre characteristic called the
“cutoff wavelength”.
 The cutoff wavelength is the shortest wavelength at
which the fibre remains single-mode.
 At wavelengths shorter than the cutoff the fibre is
Cutoff Wavelength

Transmitting Light on a
 An optical fibre is a very thin strand of silica glass in
geometry quite like a human hair.
 In reality it is a very narrow, very long glass
cylinder with special characteristics.
 When light enters one end of the fibre it travels
(confined within the fibre) until it leaves the fibre at
the other end. Two critical factors stand out:
 1. Very little light is lost in its journey along the
 2. Fibre can bend around corners and the light will
stay within it and be guided around the corners.
Light Propagation in
Multimode Fibre
 The key feature of light propagation in a fibre is that
the fibre may bend around corners.
 Provided the bend radius is not too tight (2 cm is about
the minimum for most multimode fibers) the light will
follow the fibre and will propagate without loss due to
the bends.
 This phenomena is called “total internal reflection”.
 A ray of light entering the fibre is guided along the fibre
because it bounces off the interface between the core
and the (lower refractive index) cladding.
 Light is said to be “bound” within the fiber.

Numerical Aperture
 Multimode optical fiber will only propagate light that
enters the fiber within a certain cone, known as the
acceptance cone or cone of acceptance of the fiber.
 The half-angle of this cone is called the acceptance angle,
 For step-index multimode fiber, the acceptance angle is
determined only by the indices of refraction:

 Where
n is the refractive index of the medium light is
traveling before entering the fiber
nf is the refractive index of the fiber core
nc is the refractive index of the cladding

Properties of Fibers
 There are some important properties of
fibers as explained below.

1. Loss:
 The losses occur in fiber because of the
impurities present in the glass.
 More accurately, impurities in the glass can
absorb light but the glass itself does not
absorb light at the wavelengths of interest.

Properties of Fibers
 In addition, variations in the uniformity of the glass
cause scattering of the light.
 Both the rate of light absorption and the amount of
scattering are dependent on the wavelength of the
light and the characteristics of the particular glass.

2. Attenuation:
 Attenuation in Optical fiber is pulse weakening,

which is due to light absorption by the impurities in

the glass.
 The band between about 1510 nm and 1600 nm has

the lowest attenuation available on current optical

fiber 44
Properties of Fibers
3. Dispersion
 Dispersion occurs when a pulse of light is spread

out during transmission on the fibre.

 A short pulse becomes longer and ultimately joins

with the pulse behind, making recovery of a

reliable bit stream impossible.
 Axis: The center of an optical fiber.

 Mainly there are many types of dispersions.

Properties of Fibers

Material Dispersion
 Material dispersion is also called as
chromatic dispersion.
 Both lasers and LEDs produce a range of
optical wavelengths (a band of light) rather
than a single narrow wavelength.
 The fibre has different refractive index
characteristics at different wavelengths and
therefore each wavelength will travel at a
different speed in the fibre.
 Thus, some wavelengths arrive before
others and a signal pulse disperses (or
smears out).
Modal dispersion
 When using multimode fibre, the light is
able to take many different paths or
“modes” as it travels within the fibre.
 The distance traveled by light in each mode
is different from the distance traveled in
other modes.
 Therefore, some components of the pulse
will arrive before others.
 The difference between the arrival time of
light taking the fastest mode versus the
slowest obviously gets greater as the
distance gets greater.

Properties of Fibers
 Waveguide dispersion
 Waveguide dispersion is a very complex

effect and is caused by the shape and

index profile of the fibre core.
 However, this can be controlled by careful

4. Numerical Aperture
5. Cone of Acceptance

Core/Clad Concentricity:
 Tighter core/clad concentricity tolerances
help ensure that the fiber core is centered in
relation to the cladding.
 This reduces the chance of ending up with
cores that do not match up precisely when
two fibers are spliced together.
 A core that is precisely centered in the fiber
yields lower-loss splices more often.
Fiber Curl
 Fiber curl is the inherent curvature along a
specific length of optical fiber that is exhibited
to some degree by all fibers.
 It is a result of thermal stresses that occur
during the manufacturing process.
 Therefore, these factors must be rigorously
monitored and controlled during fiber
 Tighter fiber-curl tolerances reduce the
possibility that fiber cores will be misaligned
during splicing, thereby impacting splice loss
Losses in Fiber
 Losses in a fiber can be of two types
 Intrinsic Losses

 Extrinsic Losses

 Intrinsic losses occurs due to something

inside or inherent to the fiber.
 It is caused by impurities in the glass during
the manufacturing process.

Intrinsic Losses contd..,
 As precise as manufacturing is, there is no
way to eliminate all impurities, though
technological advances have caused
attenuation to decrease dramatically
since the first optical fiber in 1970.

 When a light signal hits an impurity in the

fiber, one of two things will occur: it will
scatter or it will be absorbed.
Intrinsic Losses contd..,
 Scattering:
Scattering accounts for the majority
(about 96%) of attenuation in optical fiber.
 Light travels in the core and interacts with
the atoms in the glass.
 The light waves collide with the atoms,
and light is scattered as a result.
 Some scattered light is reflected back
toward the light source (input end)
Intrinsic Losses contd..,
The second type of intrinsic attenuation in
fiber is absorption.
 Absorption accounts for 3-5% of fiber
 This phenomenon causes a light signal to be
absorbed by natural impurities in the glass.

Extrinsic Losses
 The second category of losses are extrinsic

 Extrinsic losses can be caused by two

external mechanisms:
 macro bending

 micro bending.

 Both cause a reduction of optical power.

Extrinsic Losses contd..,
 Macro bending
If a bend is imposed on an optical fiber,
strain is placed on the fiber along the
region that is bent.
 The bending strain will affect the
refractive index and the critical angle of
the light ray in that specific area.
 As a result, light traveling in the core can
refract out, and loss occurs.
Extrinsic Losses contd..,
 A macro bend is a large-scale bend that is
visible; for example, a fiber wrapped around
a person's finger.
 This loss is generally reversible once bends
are corrected.

Extrinsic Losses contd..,
 Micro bending
The second extrinsic cause of attenuation is
a micro bend.
 This is a small-scale distortion, generally
indicative of pressure on the fiber.
 Micro bending may be related to
temperature, tensile stress, or crushing
 Like macro bending, micro bending will
cause a reduction of optical power in the
glass. 61
Extrinsic Losses contd..,
 Micro bending is very localized, and the bend
may not be clearly visible upon inspection