You may hear about fiber optics a lot these days, but do you know why? An optical fiber is a transparent, flexible fiber made of silica (extruded glass) that can be used to transmit light. Some of the most common applications include: |
Fiber optics are widely used in the telecommunication and computer networking industries because the cables are flexible and can be bundled together. It is especially advantageous in long distance applications because light is allowed to pass through the medium without much signal loss as compared to traditional electrical cables.
Many office buildings use this technology, since it can save space in the cable duct area. A single cable carries much more data than standard electrical cables, so you don't need as many for the same or better transmission speeds. You also won't have as much electrical interference with fiber cables since there is no crossing of the signals in the different cables, or pickup of external noise. They are a good solution for high voltage areas and structures prone to lightning strikes, since they do not conduct electricity.
A primary use for fiber optic sensors is in security systems. The light passes along a sensor cable that is on a fence, pipeline, or other communication wire. The signal is returned to a monitoring base and analyzed for disturbances. These disturbances are digitally processed to trigger an alarm if some kind of intrusion has occurred.
This technology is also used to measure strain, temperature, pressure, and other variables. An advantage to using fiber optics for this type of application is that longer distances may be monitored.
These cables are also used in situations that would be inaccessible by other means. One example of this is a sensor that measures the temperature inside aircraft engines by using a fiber optic cable to transmit radiation into an instrument outside of the engine. Likewise, extrinsic sensors may measure electrical transformer temperatures when other methods cannot be used because of the surrounding electromagnetic fields.
Fiber optics are used to pass power using a photovoltaic cell that converts the light into electricity. While not as efficient as other methods, it is helpful when a metallic conductor is present, as in the case of use near MRI machines. Electronics may also be powered with high-power antenna elements and high voltage equipment.
There are new applications for fiber optics being developed every day. Your office may already use the technology. Your power company may also take advantage of some of the efficiencies gained with this type of cabling. If you use a home telephone, browse the Internet, or have cable TV, you may be using fiber optic technology. Be on the lookout for improvements and availability in your area, so you can take advantage of this fast and efficient technology.
Kalamazoo, MI business owners interested in fiber optics turn to CTS Telecom Inc. Learn more at http://ctstelecom.com/.
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