How Does Optical Fiber Work? Explain Its Components

by Philip Jara

Fiber optic technology was first created in the 1950s for the creation of these endoscopes. Endoscopes are medical tools used to examine the inside of a human patient without performing surgery. Engineers working on telephones modified the technology in the 1960s so that calls could be made and received as quickly as light. Bonelinks provides a range of high-end fiber optic equipment that enhances the performance and dependability of data center networks.

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Working of Optic Fiber

A transmitter, an optical fiber—the transmission medium—and a receiver make up a fiber optic system. The operation of fiber optics can be explained in the following five simple steps:

  • The fiber optic system receives data input electrically.
  • The transmitter accepts input electrical signals, transforms them into optical (light) signals, and then transmits the optical signal by altering the output of a light source—either an LED or a laser—by modulating its intensity.
  • Optical fiber is a transmission medium made of a short glass strand. Total internal reflection is a characteristic of light signals that allows them to pass through the center of the fiber from one end to the other. Simply put, a sequence of reflections on the edge of the cladding causes the light signal to bounce down the fiber’s core and out the opposite end of the glass strand.
  • The optical (light) to electrical converter at the end of the glass strand is known as the receiver. In this instance, a photodiode (photo detector) receives the optical signals and changes them back into electrical signals.
  • A router or network switch can decode and process the electrical data output that is produced.

Components of an Optical Fiber

The following are the main components of optical fiber:


The optical fiber’s core, through which light passes, is its center portion. It is created from glass or plastic that is optically clear and has a high refractive index. As the light pulses go along the fiber, the core is in charge of directing them.


The cladding, which encircles the core, is formed of a separate substance and has a refractive index that is marginally lower than the core. The difference in refractive indices between the two materials enables total internal reflection, which keeps light signals contained within the core as they travel through the fiber.


An exterior covering for the optical fiber consists of a durable, stretchable polymer, such as plastic or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). The jacket often referred to as a sheath, shields the core and coating from abrasion, moisture, and mechanical harm.

Buffer Coating

An exterior covering is known as the buffer coating is used to shield the core and cladding from damage from the outside. Usually, a robust and long-lasting substance like polyimide or acrylate is used to create this covering. It offers mechanical toughness and defense against moisture and other environmental conditions.

Strength Members

It is common practice to incorporate additional strength elements into the design of optical fibers used in long-haul applications or installation in difficult situations. These support structures, constructed of materials like aramid or fiberglass, improve the fiber’s tensile strength and longevity.


Optical fibers are frequently terminated with connectors at their ends in practical applications. These connectors make it simple and dependable to connect optical fibers or optical components, including switches, receivers, and transmitters.

Final Words

Fiber optics is among the most revolutionary and crucial technologies of the contemporary era. It has completely transformed the way humans interact due to its capacity to send data as light pulses over large distances. It is made up of various parts. Optical fibers are an essential part of contemporary telecommunications and data transmission systems since each of these components is essential to their performance and dependability.

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