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Learn more about Fiber Optic Cable:
Fiber Optics is the communications medium that works by sending optical signals down hair-thin strands of extremely pure glass or plastic fiber. The light is "guided" down the center of the fiber called the "core". The core is surrounded by a optical material called the "cladding" that traps the light in the core using an optical technique called "total internal reflection." The fiber itself is coated by a "buffer" as it is made to protect the fiber from moisture and physical damage. The buffer is what one strips off the fiber for termination or splicing.
The core and cladding are usually made of ultra-pure glass, although some fibers are all plastic or a glass core and plastic cladding. The core is designed to have a higher index of refraction, an optical parameter that is a measure of the speed of light in the material, than the cladding, which causes "total internal reflection" to trap light in the core up to a certain angle, which defines the “numerical aperture” of the fiber. More technical details are below.
Glass fiber is coated with a protective plastic covering called the "primary buffer coating" that protects it from moisture and other damage. More protection is provided by the "cable" which has the fibers and strength members inside an outer protective covering called a "jacket".
Fiber Types: Multimode & Singlemode, Core/Cladding Size
The two types of fiber are multimode and singlemode. Within these categories, fibers are identified by their core composition (MM step-index or graded-index) and core/cladding diameters expressed in microns (one millionth of a meter), e.g. 50/125 micron graded-index multimode fiber. Most glass fibers are 125 microns in outside diameter - a micron is one one-millionth of a meter and 125 microns is 0.005 inches- a bit larger than the typical human hair.
Multimode fiber has light traveling in the core in many rays, called modes. It has a larger core (almost always 50 or 62.5 microns) which supports the transmission of multiple modes (rays) of light. Multimode is generally used with LED sources at wavelengths of 850 and 1300 nm (see below!) for slower local area networks (LANs) and lasers at 850 (VCSELs) and 1310 nm (Fabry-Perot lasers) for networks running at gigabits per second or more.