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9 Applications of Optical Fiber in Daily Life

(Last Updated On: April 25, 2023)

Optical fiber is the cylinder-shaped waveguide used in various applications such as communication, entertainment, construction, decoration, medicine, health care, research, development, etc.

The materials generally used to construct optical fibers include silica, glass, and plastic. Optical fibers are slightly thicker in size and arsomewhatly thicker than the diameter of human hair.

It can be broadly categorized into three basic types based on the type of material used, the refractive index of the core and cladding, and the mode of propagation of light. Some of the most common types of optical fibers include step-index optical fiber, graded-index optical fiber, plastic optical fiber, glass optical fiber, silicon optical fiber, single-mode optical fiber, and multimode optical fiber.

Optical fibers are advantageous as they are flexible, lightweight, slim, and non-flammable. In addition, in real life, there are certain limitations in using optical fibers for different applications because optical fibers are not as strong as traditional wires, are highly susceptible to dents, and can easily break if bent too much. In addition, the manufacturing and installation costs of fiber optic cables are much higher than copper or aluminum cables. Glass fiber optic cables are very fragile. They require a high level of maintenance and care.

Various daily life applications rely on optical fibers for their basic operation.

1. Communication Systems 

The fiber optic communication system involves the transmission of information from the source to the destination in the form of pulses of infrared light signals.

This communication method is suitable for long-distance and short-distance communication, allowing users to exchange various signals, including voice, video, data, and telemetry signals. Elements of a fiber optic communication system include transmitter circuitry, light sources, photodetectors, and receiver circuitry.

Light-emitting diodes or LASER light are preferred sources for transmitting signals in optical fiber communication. In contrast, PN junction diodes and avalanche diodes are the preferred photodetectors for reception and detection purposes.

The optical fiber communication system is generally preferred over other modes of communication as it proves to be reliable and offers the minimum possibility of the input signal getting affected by electromagnetic interference. Also, the optical fiber-based communication system has a significantly large bandwidth, fewer chances of signal degradation, provides high data security, is comparatively cost-effective, and consumes lesser power.

Fiber Optic Communications Systems 02

2. Medical Equipment 

Optical fibers are widely used in various medical equipment and research laboratory machines. For instance, the endoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, etc., are some diagnostic medical gadgets that rely on optical fibers for their general operation.

Optical fibers are usually preferred for medical diagnostic and treatment applications because they offer no or minimum side effects and harmful consequences, are flexible, have a significantly lesser surface area, and do not emit toxic radiation. Other than diagnostic and treatment applications, optical fibers can also be used for research applications in the microbiology and biomedical sector.

Fiber Optic Medical Applications 02

3. Internet

Internet is one of the prominent examples of real-life applications that make use of optical fibers. Optical fibers can transmit a large amount of data from one place to another in relatively less time.

The high data transmission speed, flexibility, lightweight nature, and ability to easily carry bulk data make optical fibers suitable for internet cables in place of traditional copper wires.

Fiber Optic Internet 02

4. Automotive Industry

The automotive industry uses optical fibers to illuminate the interiors of vehicles. This is because optical fibers do not consume much space, radiate bright light, can be deployed flexibly in the mechanical structure of the car, are economical, do not consume much power, have minimum chances of signal deterioration and leakage, have a significantly longer life span, and do not require frequent maintenance.

Besides interior illumination applications, the automotive industry may also employ optical fibers in the exterior lamps of a vehicle. Also, optical fibers can be used in a system for communication purposes. For instance, in case of an accident, the network of optical fibers can be used to transmit the signal generated by the collision detector or sensor to the internal circuitry of the vehicle and helps quickly activate the traction control and airbag system.

Using optical fibers for communication among different parts of a vehicle is advantageous as the optical signal travels at the speed of light, thereby improving the response time of the control systems.

Fiber Optics in Automotive

5. Telephone

The local telephonic connectivity within the building, the city, or the country and the global telephonic connectivity among users in different countries typically rely on the primary working principle of optical fibers.

The optical fiber cables are bundled together for cellular communication and laid underground or beneath the sea surface area. This increases the security of the signal, as the flowing data is less susceptible to electromagnetic interference introduced by other electromagnetic waves in the environment.

The optical fiber-based telephonic connection enables the users to connect within a fraction of a second as the optical signal flows at the speed of light. Also, this communication system eliminates lead and lag issues, allowing both parties to have a clear conversation with little or no distortion.

The disadvantage of using optical fibers for telephonic communication is that the cables are susceptible to undergoing micro bends due to the deformities present beneath the ground and may hamper the quality or content of the signal.

Fiber Optics in Telephone Services 02

6. Inspection Devices

Fiber optics are of great use to inspection and maintenance engineers. That’s because fiber optic cables are flexible and can be used to inspect hard-to-reach places. The design of inspection equipment tends to vary depending on the type of area in which it is implemented. For example, one of the most popular fiber-optic-based inspection devices utilizes a tiny camera mounted on a long, flexible fiber-optic tube made of silica, plastic, or glass.

An array of cameras and tubes are placed within the area to start the inspection process. Video cameras tend to capture visual information and pass it on to fiber optic cables. The technician or engineer then obtains the information on the display device.

The advantages of using fiber optics for inspection include greater flexibility, better field of view, minimal signal loss or damage, faster information transmission, and more.

Fiber Optic Inspection

7. Military Applications

Data transmitted with the help of fiber optics is highly secure, and only authenticated users can access it. Since the main focus of military applications is data security and privacy, this unique property of optical fiber can be exploited in many military applications.

All three military applications, namely, army, navy, and aerospace use optical fibers to establish a shared channel between the stations to exchange information and analyze data. Some prominent applications of optical fiber in the military include avionics and mission control systems, high-speed mission data exchange, flight planning, sensor data fusion, controlling the operation of weapon systems, etc.

Fiber Optic Military Applications

8. Space Applications

Some space applications, such as satellite communications, remote sensing, high-power laser systems, multispectral and hyperspectral imaging, optical data communications, lidar, atmospheric monitoring and analysis, etc., rely on optical fibers for their operation.

This is because optical fiber minimizes the risk of interference, allows maximum bandwidth, and makes the system cost-effective, flexible, simple, and lightweight.

Fiber Optic in Space Applications

9. Cable Television

Cable TV utilizes a network of fiber optic cables to carry a cable TV signal from a source to multiple destinations. The high bandwidth and transmission speed of fiber optic cables are often utilized in cable television applications.

Furthermore, it is advantageous to use optical fibers instead of traditional copper wires because they are relatively cheaper to manufacture, deploy and maintain.

Fiber Optic Cable Television

Optical fiber has multiple applications, and it is used in various types. To read more such informative topics, visit our website: www.holightoptic.com.

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