How Does Optical Fiber Work?


Light is the fastest thing in the universe. Why not get light to piggyback data, and make the internet faster? This is where optical fibers out“shine” other methods. Imagine you are in a room, and it has open doors and windows. Now you stand at the center of one of the walls and throw a ball in a way that it hits the adjacent wall and bounces to the next wall, and this goes on forever. You manage to achieve this with such efficiency that the ball never goes out of the open windows or doors, staying inside the room throughout. Impressive, right? Now, imagine the same with light.


Light is passed through a glass fiber cable in such a way that it bounces off the walls of the cable but doesn’t leave through the transparent glass. This process is called total internal reflection, and it is the same phenomenon that causes diamonds to sparkle. In optical fibers, this ray of light carries data and moves forward by bouncing from one wall to another. An additional layer of glass, called ‘cladding,’ is also present around the ‘core’ or the cable through which the light beam passes. The cladding improves total internal reflection and prevents loss of data by dispersion of light.