Computable Minds -

Christmas tree of optical fiber

Posted on: Dec, 24th 2010
optical fiber
The Christmas arrived, the streets are full of led diodes of high luminescence, the house of Christmas trees of optical fiber, the computers of USB ornaments and Santa Claus brings robots and computers to the children. A lot of technology to celebrate the born of Isaac Newton as must be. In this post I'm going to talk about how works the Christmas trees of optical fiber.

The optical fiber, as transmission medium, allows better speeds and better distances, but the lights of the trees of optical fiber, also are more practical thanks to it, because we don't have to unroll it, spend less energy, have better duration and doesn't generated heat, so there isn't danger to burn any ornament. In the base usually there are color leds.

The working of the optical fiber is apparently simple, the light enters by a extreme and travels by the core of the fiber bouncing inside of it, that allows that the light travel where us we want guide it with the cable.

The bounce of the light inside the cable, is a physics phenomenon that is called reflection. This phenomenon can be observed, for instance, in a lake when we see that it reflects the clouds and the landscape. However, if we stand up on the shore and we look at down we can see the ground of the lake distorted. This is due to another physic phenomenon, the refraction, where the light, instead of bounce, change its direction when change the medium (in this example the light enter and exit from the water to the air).

The reflection, inside of the core of the optical fiber, is possible thanks to that the core have a refractive index different to the cladding (both are transparent and can be of glass or plastic). If someone want to investigate more about the physics details, I recommend that search the Snell's Law.

The optical fiber that is used to transfer the information have more quality than the of the Christmas trees, is more thin (about the size of a hair), have an additional color cladding and not only can have leds, moreover can use lasers as source of light. All of that allows transfer the information to larger distances. Information that goes encoded in the parameters of phase, amplitude and frequency of wave of light, therefore also is needed hardware that generates the light in the correct way from the information that we want to transfer. So, as is logic, we can't use our Christmas tree to connect to the Internet.

The biggest Christmas tree of the world

Finally, as curiosity, in a shopping center of Hong Kong, the professor Charles K. Kao, Nobel of physics and one of the fathers of the optical fiber, has opened the Christmas tree of optical fiber more big of the world. Its size is about 21 meters and it has needed 4.000.000 units of optical fiber.

With this inauguration want attract more people to an event of fundraising to a foundation called as the professor and it's dedicated to the investigation of the Alzheimer, disease that the professor himself have.


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