Components of Optical Fiber

Components of Optical Fiber

Optical fiber is a type of communication cable that transmits data by using light. It consists of a core, which allows the light to travel through it; cladding, which prevents the light from escaping; and coating, which protects the fiber.

Unlike metal wire, light power is able to propagate in optical fibers for long distances. However, attenuation occurs, which can reduce the signal strength over time.


A core is the smallest part of an optical fiber. It’s usually made from glass (silica), although plastic fiber is also used. This component transports the signals that travel through the rest of the optical fiber.

Optical fiber is often used to connect multiple devices, such as computers and printers. Using these fibers to transmit data is more efficient than wires and cables, which means faster download speeds and greater reliability.

The core of an optical fiber consists of a glass or plastic tube that is smaller than a human hair. It’s surrounded by a lower-refractive-index cladding, which traps light inside the core through a process called total internal reflection.

When light strikes the core, it must strike the cladding at an angle greater than or equal to the critical angles for the fiber (typically about 82deg for optical fibers). The cladding reflects the light back to the core, keeping it inside the core and allowing transmission down the length of the cable.

Modern optical fibers are very weakly guiding, meaning that the difference in refractive index between the core and cladding is tiny. This enables light to be transmitted through the core without leaking out, which is crucial for high performance and long distances.

Another way to reduce loss is to minimize modal dispersion. Mode dispersion is the scattering of light energy that occurs when different rays of light are propagated down the core in curved paths. This varies by the type of fiber and the mechanical geometry, but it is often reduced in graded index (GI) fibers.

GI fibers use a range of materials in the core to maximize the number of modes that can be transmitted. The radial index of refraction is gradually decreased from the center to the cladding interface, which enables more modes to be transmitted. The higher-order modes are transmitted faster than the lower-order modes in a GI fiber’s core, thereby reducing modal dispersion.

In addition, fibers can be matched with mating connectors or mechanical splices to further decrease the reflected signal at boundaries. This can be achieved by adding a liquid, gel or cement with an index of refraction that closely approximates the fiber’s core index.


The cladding of an optical fiber consists of a thin, glass or plastic layer that extends the length of the light-transmitting core. This cladding is usually made of the same material as the core (glass, or sometimes plastic), but it has a slightly lower index of refraction than the core, which causes “total internal reflection” to occur at the core-cladding boundary to trap the light energy in the core up to a specific angle (defined as the numerical aperture or NA of the fiber).

The core and cladding are drawn together from an ultra-hot glass blank inside a furnace. As the blank is drawn vertically down, it becomes thinner and thiner until it components of optical fiber reaches the cladding. It is important to use a blank that has a very high quality and is cooled down slowly to avoid damaging the glass.

As the blank continues to drop, it forms a thin strand of glass that lays along the edge of the cladding. This is known as the “draw” and is the final step in making an optical fiber.

Optical cladding can be used to provide a building with an attractive look and perform a number of functions, including regulating the flow of light and controlling the amount of heat it emits. It can also be used to separate a building’s indoor environment from the outdoor, and to create a sunshade.

There are a wide range of cladding materials available and the selection will depend on the function required. For example, timber is a popular choice because of its natural durability and low maintenance requirements, but it can be susceptible to fading and rot.

Some other cladding materials include metals such as aluminium, which is a lightweight but long-lasting option. Other materials include composites, such as recycled polystyrene or certain blends of cement.

The type of cladding material chosen depends on the purpose of the building and the aesthetic desires of its owners. There are a number of factors to consider, including wind load and installation, weather resistance, fire proofing and thermal insulation and conductivity.

The cladding is a major structural component of an exterior structure, and as such it has to be sturdy enough to withstand the effects of wind and fire. Its material must also be able to resist corrosion, water tightness and air permeability, as well as being durable and easy to maintain.


Optical fibers have an optical coating, which consists of one or more plastic sheaths that surround the core and provide protection from moisture and other environmental conditions. These sheaths are usually made of a plastic material, such as polyethylene terephthalate or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), that is resistant to the effects of humidity, dust, and UV light.

The sheath also helps to protect the core from mechanical loads during installation and long term use, such as crushing or tension. These loads can place the glass in a state of tensile stress, which may lead to microbending losses. These losses can cause attenuation and fatigue in the cable.

In addition to the sheath, the core of an optical fiber is surrounded by a layer of cladding, which provides a lower refractive index than the core and prevents light from escaping through the sidewalls of the optical cable. The cladding can be made from any material, including metals such as copper and aluminum, but it should be transparent or translucent to allow for the transmission of light.

Some cladding materials are stronger than others, depending on the applications to which they are used. For example, hard-clad silica (HCS) fibers have a glass core with cladding that is reinforced with a hard polymer or other material. This kind of fiber is commonly used in industrial sensing applications and medical/dental applications where ruggedness is a primary concern.

Another type of cladding is called an “index-matching material.” This is a liquid, cement (adhesive), or gel that has a similar index of refraction to the core of the fiber. This material is placed in mating connectors or used in mechanical splices to reduce the Fresnel reflections that can occur at the interface between the two materials.

Optical fibers are widely used in many industries, ranging from communications to defence to broadcasting. They are non-flammable and require less power to operate than metal wires, making them ideal for transmitting data at high speed. They also are non-interfering with electromagnetic signals, meaning that they are not susceptible to interference from radio waves or microwaves. They are also very flexible, so they can be manipulated to fit different shapes and sizes.


Connectors are the pieces that join and interconnect optical fiber. They are usually composed of several components, such as a ferrule, a body and pins.

Optical fiber connectors are typically used with plastic or metal cables and often have a protective covering to prevent moisture from entering the connector and causing damage. Some types of connectors also include a strain relief protector to protect the end of the optical cable from scratches or abrasions.

Most connectors feature a protruding ferrule, which holds the fiber and aligns it for mating with another piece of equipment such as an optic transceiver or another fiber. This enables quick and reliable connections between fibers.

The ferrule of a fiber optic connector is typically made of ceramic or another material that provides high density and reliability. This is especially important for industrial applications, where a connector may be in close components of optical fiber contact with machinery and need to be robust enough to resist vibrations and other environmental conditions.

A ferrule can also help reduce signal loss, especially when the connector is in contact with another type of electronic device. The ferrule has holes running parallel to the fibers in the outer surface that hold precision metal guide pins, which align the fibers with tight tolerances.

This helps ensure that light transmitted through the fiber reaches its destination with minimum loss. The ferrule also includes a cladding that surrounds the entire length of the core, which keeps the light inside the core as it travels to its destination.

Multi-fiber push on/pull off (MTP) and multi-pair (MPO) are two types of threaded connectors, which are used in high-density applications where multiple fibers must be connected to a single fiber port. These connectors have a ferrule that holds up to 12 fibers, with the core of each fiber stripped to 125um and the cladding of each fiber inserted into 250um spaced parallel grooves.

MTP and MPO fibers are commonly used with pre-terminated cabling systems, or for installations that require a large number of fibers to be connected together. They are compatible with most fibers and include male and female connector designs.