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How Do Fiber Optics Work?
Light and Glass
Fiber optic is the name for the process by which data is transferred via light pulses, which are sent through thin strands of glass or plastic. These strands of glass or plastic, also called optical cables, are as thin as a human hair, which means a lot of them can be bound together. It also means they can be damaged very easily.
Light waves do not "bend" by themselves; they cannot go around a corner without reflecting off of a mirror or other reflective surface. Fiber optics bend lights by "bouncing" the pulses of light all along their inner walls. This is called total internal reflection. These light pulses, full of data, can travel quickly over great distances.
Transmitters and Receivers
A transmitter at one end of the fiber optic system sends the data by converting electronic signals into light pulses, which are beamed into the fibers. A receiver at the other end receives and decodes the pulses, transforming them into electrical signals, which are then sent on to televisions, computers and other electronic devices. Sometimes, a regenerator is needed to boost the power of the light signal over very long distances.