What’s really inside a fiber optic cable? That’s a question that most customers of fiber optic cable suppliers want to know. Fiber optic is the communications medium that works by sending optical signals down hair-thin strands of extremely pure glass or plastic fiber. Fiber optic cables are capable of carrying high volume of data over long distances. This article is written to take a peek inside fiber optic cables. Starting at the center and working our way outside.
A standard fiber optic cable is comprised of four specific parts:
Core: A fiber optic’s center is made of glass, and this tube carries the cable’s light signals. Depending on the type of fiber optic cable (single more of multimode), the core varies in size. Single mode fibers consist of a tiny glass core that typically has a diameter between 8.3 and 10 microns. This type of cable is used for telephone and CATV with laser sources at 1300 and 1550nm because it has a lower loss and virtually infinite bandwidth. For multi mode fibers, the core is larger. Their core size ranges from 5 to 7 times larger than a single mode core. With a diameter ranging between 50 to 62.5 microns,it supports the transmission of multiple mode (rays) of light and perfect for high data applications. Multimode is generally used with LED source at wavelengths of 850 and 1300nm for slower local area networks (LANs) and lasers at 850 (VCSELs) and 1310nm (Fabry-Perot lasers) for networks running at gigabyte per seconds or more. Multi mode cables are typically used over shorter distances than single mode fiber optic cables.
Cladding layer: The core is surrounded by an optical material called the “cladding” that traps the light in the core using an optical technique called “total internal reflection.” When transmitting data (especially over long distances), light rays can reflect off each other and travel in different directions. The cladding keeps those signals straight.Buffer: Buffer is made to protect fiber from moisture and physical damage. The buffer is what one strips off the fiber for termination or splicing. More often than not, the buffer is made of
Jacket: The fiber optic’s cable exterior is typically made of tough, durable polyurethane. Its job is to protect the overall integrity of the fiber optic cable. The jacket is the first line of defense in a fiber optic cable. Routing cables can put stresses on a fiber optic cable and a jacket sometimes contains an extra layer to avoid these potential hazards.
Water Barrier: Common water barriers for ordinary cable include: an axially laid aluminum foil/polyethylene laminated film immediately inside the polyurethane of polyethylene plastic sheaths;
and/or the use of moisture resistant compounds around the fibers.
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