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Fibre Optics

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Nathan V

on 17 June 2013

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Transcript of Fibre Optics

Fiber Optics
Fiber Optics have been a key piece of technology in last decade for making not only the Internet, but all human communications the always available and inter-connected system that it is today. It's speed advantage over conventionally wire is what allows for our world of instantly accessing anything, anywhere.
The Past of Fibre
Fiber strands made of glass have been made and used since the Romans, but weren't applied to anything useful until 1790 when it was used as the first optical telegraph, transmitting signals in pulses light. It was used to transmit messages messages through a series of towers, where a person on each tower would relay the message seen form the last. In the late 1800s, Alexander Grande Bell used this method to send voice calls through tubes in his house. In 1895, was able to send the same light signals through bent glass pipes. In 1985, after a many patents, the US Government used fiber optic cables to link computers together at NORAD, to avoid interference. This was the first large scale application used for data communication.
Fiber Optic cables are used all around the world to connect cites, and towns to each other at literally the speed of light. By use of light pulses to transmit signals, very large amounts of data can by transmitted through a single fiber at different frequencies of light, all at the same time. All internet access goes through over 25 million kilometer of fibre optic cables, worldwide.
To the future...
In the very near future fiber optic will become even more relevant to everyday life then it already is. With recent advances in the size of developing fiber optic cables, and there receivers, companies such as Intel have been working on creating computers that use fiber to transfer data between different components. Very soon, this will replace light will replace copper inside all computers, making not only the internet faster, but your own computer too. The advantages of using fiber optics in computers are impressive, with computer speeds possibly increasing by at least 10x, or more.
Back to School...
It is very easy to see how all of this links back into the classroom, and what we talked about as a class. The speed of light is in-comprehensible. Being taught in class about its speed compared to the speed of other things, such as sound for example really helped me put the abilities of Fiber Optics into perspective.
The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.
- Bill Gates
Alexander Grande Bell
Transferred voice messages through glass tubes for the first time.
The method of send light through bending tubes was first demonstrated in 1840 by John Tyndall. He used a bucket of water, which had a bent flow of water falling out. The sun shone into the bucket, and the light was transferred down the stream of water, leaking out the sides slowly.
NORAD command center, seen above, was the first to use fiber optics for communications between computer systems.
The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.
- Jon Stewart
How does it work?
The method of transmitting light through bendable fiber optic cables takes advantage of total internal reflection. Total internal reflection states that when light transfers from one medium to another, with which have different index of reflection, if the light hits the edge of its current medium at an angle greater, then critical angle that is required for reflection, then the light is reflected back. In a fiber cable, the light continues reflecting back again, until the cables bent too much (the critical angle is then not met, and light escapes) or the light reaches the end of the cable.
Shown here, two different light signals, or different frequency are sent through a bending fiber. They continues to reflect, because they hit the edge of the cable at greater angle then the critical angle.
At both end of a a fiber optic cable a transmitter, and receiver is used, similar to the one shown here. This box preforms the task of reading the pulses of the light signals, and interpreting them as 1s and 0s and convert that into an electrical signal. It also does the same thing in reverse, to convert electrical signals into light pulses.
Dozens of Fiber Cable connectors are held up to a camera above. These connectors can connect to other cables, or into receivers which transfer the light into electricity.
Although the principle of how fiber optic cables work is simple, the manufacturing process is not. Because of this, fiber optic cables are often more expensive to make then their copper counterparts. The video here shows how they are made.
In this image, a prototype design for a fiber optic receiver is shown on computer motherboard. With these receivers of this size, it make it possible to to transfer data form the motherboard to other computer computer with fiber optics, instead of electricity. By using light, substantially larger amounts of data can be transmitted between components, and at considerably faster speeds then electrical signals.
Making Fiber Faster
Recent research in fiber optics have led to the testing of hollow fiber optic cables. By use of hollow cables, air is at the core, with a thin outer wall of fiber that reflects the light back. the idea is that because light travels faster in air, then the acrylic used in conventional fiber optics, that the signals would travel even faster then ever before. University of Southampton researchers have found that this hollow cables can transfer data as much as 1000 times faster then non-hollow cables. In testing they had speeds of up to 10 terabytes per second. That is the equivalent of copying 300 Blu-Ray movies in one second!! Now that's some fas(cinating)t science.
The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.
- Eric Schmidt

As I learned in class, light is incredible, and with fiber optic we can harness its power and make the world a more connected place.
Final thoughts...
Fiber Optics operate a very simple idea, but that idea allows the world to be connected more quickly then with conventional wires. The future holds entire computers using electricity only power the lights transmitting the signals. A computer running at the speed of light would make today computers even faster then they already are. With companies light Intel already successfully testing optic based CPUs, the faster future is just around the corner.

But how long will it be before we have computer powered by light? And what would the costs of these computers be? The cost of producing conventional cable is high enough already.

Will we eventually reach a point where are computers can't get any faster?
In the not so distant future, when hollow fiber optics are in use, how much faster will the communications of the world really be?
Will fiber cable replace metal based ones all together?

But the biggest question I have is this. What is the next step?
Why Fiber Optics?
I chose to use the topic fiber optics for my application because I'm always interested and fascinated by by new technology, and old technology getting better. The near future holds a world of faster fiber optics, making human communication even more plentiful then every before. If we get our computers to operate at light speed, it is as exciting as if we discovered how to travel at the speed of light.

The article on my Symbaloo page about the development of hollow fiber optics is what got me excited to make this project on that topic exactly. It showed me real use of physics in making the technology of the world even better, and that mad me want to dig deeper and learn all about it.
Lighting our World
Image Links:















Further Reading:
Intel advances in Fiber Optic Computing


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