Saturday, 21 December 2013

Fiber optics: manufacturing companies in India and the technology behind it

Fiber optics is a worldwide adopted and an extremely robust means of data transmission. It is a science of high-speed transmission of data using optical fibers. In a country like India, which is witnessing technology advancements at an exponential rate, the demand for fiber optics has increasingly led to the establishment of many companies who aim at providing quality fiber optic solutions and services. Many eminent personalities, graduated from some of the most prestigious colleges of India like the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and having many years of industry experience in networking and communication, have jumped into this lucrative field. They have started their own ventures and are striving to provide quality services in this emerging but competitive business.

Most of the people must be aware, assuming that this was a part of their school curriculum, that an optical fiber is extremely thin (about the thickness of a human hair) and is transparent. It is made of plastic and uses the principle of 'total internal reflection' to transmit data from one end to the other. The advantage of this is that there is zero percent loss of data since the light is completely reflected inside the fiber. This allows for data transmission over very long distances at high bandwidth. It may seem complex but its a very basic scientific phenomenon. The refraction of light causes hallucinations such as a 'mirage' in desert or smoky effects near vehicles in a traffic-jam on a hot sunny day.

The construction of an optical fiber consists of two parts - an inner core and an outer cladding. These parts have different refractive indexes. In layman terms, they have different densities. The outer cladding has lesser density than the inner core. Light bends while travelling through mediums having different densities. When projected at a certain angle, light does not permeate through the fiber and gets totally reflected from the junction of the core and the cladding. Most fiber optic companies manufacture two types of optical fibers - Single Mode Fiber and Multi Mode Fiber. Some companies also manufacture a special-purpose fiber which is non-cylindrical in shape and features a non circular cross-section.

This technology, though a lot better than traditional metallic wire transmission, had one big drawback - the fiber could not bend at extreme angles such as 90 degrees as it was not flexible enough. Companies such as Corning have overcome this problem through years of intensive research and development. Another issue faced by optical fibers is 'attenuation'. It is a phenomenon by which the intensity of light is reduced when it travels great distances. This is primarily due to the scattering of light inside the optical fiber. The reason behind this is mostly the uneven surface at the junction of the core and the cladding at microscopic levels. Another reason could be the absorption of ultraviolet or infrared wavelengths of light while it travels through the fiber optic medium.

This technology has found numerous takers in India as it is cheap, reliable and low on maintenance. Many telecom companies such as Reliance Telecom, Bharti Airtel etc. have switched to optical fiber technology. The use of fiber optics has enabled them to expand their network and provide quality services in even very remote parts of India.

Optical fiber companies in India are catering to the needs of the market by manufacturing and supplying many special types of optical fibers. Optical fibers are widely used medical field, spectroscopy, decoration purposes and military.

With the vast technological advancements, fiber optics is no more a dream or a thing of the future. Rather, it has become a reality and a widely-popular tool for the present which has changed the face of the telecommunication and many other industries. The fiber optic companies in India will continue to strive and unlock a world of new possibilities which will surely lead to the transformation of the world we currently live in.


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