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How Fiber Optics Work

By: Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. & Chris Pollette  | 

connection with dynamic fibre optic light trail
Fiber-optic lines have revolutionized long-distance phone calls, cable TV and the Internet. John Rensten/Getty Images

You hear about fiber-optic cables whenever people talk about the telephone system, the cable TV system or the internet. Fiber optics could be described as the science of transmitting data, voice and images by the passage of light through thin fibers, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Fiber-optic lines are strands of optically pure glass as thin as a human hair that carry digital information over long distances. They are also used in medical imaging and mechanical engineering inspection. They have virtually replaced the older technology of copper wires in telecommunications.

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In this article, we will show you how these tiny strands of glass transmit light and the fascinating way that these strands are made.

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