Fiber Optics
FIGURE 36-61
Fiber optic cables transmitting light.

Fiber optics are long, thin strands of very pure glass or plastic about the diameter of a human hair. They can be arranged in bundles and are then called optical cables Figure 36-61.Light signals can be transmitted along the cable over very long distances. Light is transmitted along the cable, bouncing from wall to wall along the way as it is transmitted through the cable. It can do this because the inner wall of the optical fiber has a mirror finish. This means the light continues to travel along the cable even when it bends around corners.

Optical fiber can be used to transmit digital data for computers or simply to light up dash gauges in a vehicle. The optical fiber is especially suited to reliably transmitting a large amount of digital data. In vehicle, optical fiber cables could be used to replace existing copper data bus systems.

Optical fiber has several advantages over other available technology. It is less expensive and thinner, it can carry much more data than copper wires, it has less signal degradation over length, and it is less affected by interference. Unlike electrical signals, light in one fiber does not interfere with light in another fiber. Optical fiber is non-flammable, lightweight, and flexible. One disadvantage to optical fiber is that it requires more complex splicing procedures.