Optical fibers have been long time sources of data transmission that have helped the information age take off. Low loss silica fibers as a broadband medium for voice, video, and traffic, are in fact critical for the current ability to communicate globally. This capability would not exist otherwise. As soon as the laser was invented in 1958, light waves were recognized as a fantastic method of data transmission. The optical fiber is what would provide the medium for this revolutionary new technology. It can be argued that the information age began in the 1970’s along with such developments as the production of optical fibers. It was around this time where the attenuation of the fibers was low enough for viable applications. As recent as 1966, this loss was still at best 1000 dB/km compared to todays 0.2 dB/km. At the turn of the millennium, they were being installed at a rate of about 3,000 miles per hour. Not only was the medium expanding, but it was also improving. The data carrying capacity of fibers was doubling every year due to extensive new research and developments in photonics and electricity.1
Thanks to countless developments in filters, processing, and many more areas related to fiber optics, the medium has far exceeded the capabilities of the 20th century. There are now cables running all over the world connecting just about everyone and anyone. Splicing techniques are better than th...
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...ors are a clear venture for research given the versatility of POFs in this area. More types of sensors allow for more studies in other fields.
The next step for POFs would be to seek lower attenuation. The processing needs to be examined and new structures and features need to be developed to allow for this. One such path for this could be the development of the use of optical band gaps as a method for preventing loss instead of the traditional core and clad. This research is already being done with glass fibers and promises in theory 0 dB/km in attenuation, given the structure can be perfectly constructed. Keeping in mind the differences in behavior between glasses and polymers, this may be impossible but certainly deserves to be looked at along with other new structures. Dopants also provide a great degree of variability for POFs and should continue to be studied.
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