3 Applications of Fiber Optic Technology

If you’re accessing the Internet through a high-speed, lag-free connection, you’re most probably doing it with the help of fiber optics. And while it does sound like a new discovery, fiber optic technology has actually been around from quite some time. Its very first implementation goes as far back as the 1970s, but it is only more recently that it’s being used to its utmost potential; indeed, technology is now having to play catch up in order to fully utilize its strengths.

Fiber optic cables are made with the help of advanced motion solution technologies like precision alignment stages in order to ensure proper connections and cable construction. With fiber optics relying on light rather than electrical currents to deliver information, the precision afforded by such motion solutions is essential, as even the smallest misalignment can cause signal loss. It can be argued that fiber optics pushed motion solutions to become more precise and accurate, so that it can deliver the intended results.

With that being said, is fiber optic technology confined to the telecommunications sector, or does it have other applications? Can its benefits be taken advantage of in other ways besides delivering high-speed internet? The answer of course is yes. Here are some of the more significant and major applications of fiber optic technology.

Telecommunications

The application of fiber optic technology in telecommunications can be considered as one of its more important and well-known applications, with many companies in this particular industry quickly adopting the technology soon after it became available. This is because fiber optic cables are much more efficient at transmitting information than electrical cables, especially when it comes to digital information such as those used in computer and cellular networks. This results in a faster flow and exchange of data, which is usually manifested through high-speed Internet connectivity and clearer audio quality in voice calls.

The benefits of fiber optic technology in telecommunications cannot be understated. Not only can fiber optic cables transmit signals through long distances without any intensity loss, a single cable can also carry a large number of different independent signals simultaneously. This is achieved through a technique called wavelength division multiplexing, wherein each signal is sent through a different color of laser. The signals are joined at the transmitter via a multiplexer, and then a demultiplexer at the receiver splits them apart and allows each color to be read independently.  This particular feature of fiber optics is also why huge undersea fiber optic cables that stretch for miles along the sea floor are used to carry telecommunication signals from one country to another.

Medicine

Fiber optic technology is seeing use in the field of medicine, specifically for diagnostic and observation purposes. Due to how thin and flexible a single optical fiber can be, it makes it perfect in aiding physicians and surgeons to look and work inside the human body without making invasive incisions. The fact that optical fibers are also inert – meaning that they carry no risk of infection or contamination – also makes them ideal in this particular setting. As such fiber optic technology is mainly used in the construction of endoscopes, colonoscopes, arthroscopes and other similar type of “wired telescope” medical imaging equipment designed for an organ-specific purpose.

Besides this, they are also used in a variety of other medical procedures that require quick and delicate work, such as wound cauterization, body temperature measurement, and blood chemistry analysis.

Industrial sensors

Fiber optic technology can also be used to measure specific physical properties that used to require heavy or specialized equipment to analyze, such as mechanical strain, pressure, and temperature. Their compact size allows them to be used in locations or settings that may prove hazardous to equipment as well as the analyst/researcher.

One example of fiber optics being used in such a scenario is the use of fiber optics to measure the temperature inside aircraft jet engines. Obviously, such a setting would be exposed to extreme temperatures that typical measurement tools would not be able to withstand. A fiber optic sensor, however, would not need to be exposed to the heat inside the engine. Instead, it can be set up outside the engine to transmit light radiation coming from the jet turbines and into a radiation pyrometer. The pyrometer would then analyze that radiation and output the temperature reading to the pilot as needed.

Fiber optic technology can be considered as one of the bigger shakers and movers of technology, especially when we take its major and most successful applications into consideration. As we continue to rely heavily on this particular modern breakthrough in our daily lives, both in work and in play, no doubt we’ll be seeing fiber optics being applied or integrated to more avenues of technology in the near future.

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