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Spie Press Book

Understanding Fiber Optics
Author(s): Jeff Hecht
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Book Description

Understanding Fiber Optics is the fifth edition of an intuitive introduction to fiber optics widely used as a textbook, for self study, or in corporate training. Packed with diagrams and descriptions, it explains the how fiber optic components and systems work with minimal math. The goal is to help you understand fiber optics, fiber and related optical components, optical measurements, and how fiber optics are used, particularly in communications. More than 100,000 copies have been sold since the first edition was published in 1987. [Publisher of 5th edition: LaserLight Press, Auburndale, Massachusetts]

Book Details

Date Published: 29 April 2015
Pages: 800
ISBN: 9781511445658
Volume: PM273

Table of Contents
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Table of Contents


1 An Introduction to Fiber Optics
A Personal View: Ups and Downs
The Roots of Fiber Optics
The Very Basics of Communications
Fiber Terms: Terminology and Units

2 Fundamentals of Fiber-Optic Components
Basics of Optics
Light Guiding
Fiber Transmission
Electro-Optics and Other Components
Fiber-Optic Applications

3 Fundamentals of Communications
Communications Concepts
Signals and Formats
Communications Services
The Business of Telecommunications

4 Types of Optical Fibers
Light Guiding
Step-lndex Multimode Fiber
Modes and Their Effects
Graded-lndex Multimode Fiber
Single-Mode Fiber
Dispersion-Shifted Single-Mode Fiber
Polarization in Single-Mode Fiber
Other Fiber Types

5 Properties of Optical Fibers
Fiber Attenuation
Light Collection and Propagation
Nonlinear Effects
Mechanical Properties

6 Fiber Materials, Structure, and Manufacture
Requirements for Making Optical Fibers
Glass Fibers
Fused-Silica Fibers
Plastic Fibers
Exotic Fibers and Light Guides

7 Specialty Fibers
What Are "Specialty" Fibers?
Dispersion-Compensating Fibers
Polarization-Maintaining Fibers
Bend-Insensitive and Coupling Fibers
Reduced-Cladding Fibers
Doped Fibers for Amplifiers and Lasers
Fiber Gratings and Photosensitive Fibers
Photonic or "Holey" Fibers
Special Noncommunications Fibers

8 Cabling
Cabling Basics
Reasons for Cabling
Types of Cable
Elements of Cable Structure
Cable Installation
Cable Changes and Failure

9 Light Sources
Light Source Considerations
LED Sources
The Laser Principle
Simple Semiconductor Lasers
Laser Wavelength
Fiber Lasers
Other Solid-State Laser Sources

10 Transmitters
Transmitter Terminology
Operational Considerations
Single-Channel Transmitter Design
Sample Transmitters

11 Receivers
Defining Receivers
Performance Considerations
Electronic Functions
Sample Receiver Circuits

12 Amplification, Regeneration, and Wavelength Conversion
Amplification and Regeneration
System Requirements
Repeaters and Regenerators
Optical Amplifiers
Erbium-Doped Fiber Amplifiers
Other Doped Fiber Amplifiers
Raman Amplification in Fibers
Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers
Wavelength Conversion

13 Connectors and Splices
Applications of Connectors and Splices
Fiber-to-Fiber Attenuation
Internal Reflections
Mechanical Considerations in Connectors
Connector Structures
Standard Connector Types
Splicing and Its Applications
Splicing Issues and Performance
Types of Splicing

14 Couplers and Other Passive Components
Coupler Concepts and Applications
Coupler Characteristics
Coupler Types and Technologies
Optical Circulators

15 Wavelength-Division Multiplexing Optics
WDM Requirements
WDM Systems
Optical Filters and WDM
WDM Technologies
Building Multiplexers and Demultiplexers

16 Optical Switches, Modulators, and Other Active Components
Defining Active Components
Modulators and Modulation
Optical Filters and WDM
Wavelength Switching and Conversion
Integrated Optics

17 Fiber-Optic Measurements
Basics of Optical Power Measurement
Wavelength and Frequency Measurements
Phase and Interference Measurements
Polarization Measurements
Time and Bandwidth Measurements
Signal Quality Measurements
Fiber-Specific Measurements

18 Troubleshooting and Test Equipment
Fiber-Optic Troubleshooting
Test and Measurement Instruments
Troubleshooting Procedures/dd>

19 System and Optical Networking Concepts
An Evolving Network
Telecommunication Network Structure
Transmission Topologies
Directing Signals
Signal Formats
Transmission Capacity

20 Fiber System Standards
Why Standards Are Needed
Families of Standards
Layers of Standards/dd>
Interchange Standards
Fiber Transmission Standards
Current Standards Issues

21 Single-Channel System Design
Power Budgeting
Examples of Loss Budgeting/dd>
Transmission Capacity Budget
Cost/Performance Trade-offs

22 Optical Networking System Design
Optical Networking Concepts
Optical Channel Density
Operating Ranges of WDM Systems
Factors in WDM Design
Optical Amplification and WDM Design
Switching and Optical Networking
Design Examples

23 Global Telecommunications Applications
Defining Telecommunications
The Global Telecommunications Network
Internet Transmission
Submarine Cables
Long-Haul Terrestrial Systems
Types of Long-Distance Services

24 Regional and Metro Telecommunications
Defining Regional and Metro Telecommunications
Regional Distribution
Regional Telecommunications Networks
Metro Networks
Regional/Metro Services and Equipment

25 Local Telephone or "Access" Networks
Structure of the Local Phone Network
Subscriber and Access Services
Emerging Services and Competing Technologies
Fiber to the Home or Premises

26 Internet Access and Local-Area Networks
Data and Voice Transmission
The Internet and Its Structure
Data Transmission Technologies
Fiber Data-Link Design
Fiber in Standard Data Networks

27 Video Transmission
Video Basics
Transmission Media
Cable Television Architecture
HDTV and Cable
Other Video Applications

28 Mobile Fiber-Optic Communications
Mobile Systems
Remotely Controlled Robotic Vehicles
Fibers in Aircraft
Shipboard Fiber-Optic Networks
Automotive Fiber Optics

29 Fiber-Optic Sensors
Fiber-Sensing Concepts
Fiber-Optic Probes
Fiber-Sensing Mechanisms
Some Fiber Sensor Examples
Fiber-Optic Gyroscopes
Smart Skins and Structures

30 Imaging and Illuminating Fiber Optics
Basics of Fiber Bundles
Optics of Bundled Fibers
Imaging Applications
Light Piping and Illumination

Appendix A: Important Constants, Units, Conversion Factors, and Equations
Appendix B: Decibels and Equivalents
Appendix C: Standard Time-Division Multiplexing Rates
Appendix D: ITU Frequencies and Wavelengths for L- and C-bands, 100-GHz Spacing, 100 Channels
Appendix E: Laser and Fiber Safety
Appendix F: Fiber-Optic Resources



About This Edition
Except for this preface, the front matter, and the errata that follows, this Laser Light Press edition reprints the fifth edition of Understanding Fiber Optics published in 2006 by Pearson Education, Inc. I am planning a sixth edition, but because that will take a while to prepare and with the Pearson edition is no longer available, I am reprinting the fifth through Laser Light Press. It may not cover the cutting edge of fiber optics, but it does cover the fundamentals you need to understand the field.

This edition also is an experiment. I want to see how reducing the book's price will affect sales and make Understanding Fiber Optics more accessible to students. Thus Laser Light Press offers a low-cost PDF electronic version and a relatively inexpensive print-on-demand paperback. The many diagrams make an e-reader version more difficult.

Whether you are an instructor, a student or a general reader, I would appreciate your comments and suggestions. If you are teaching a course based on the book, please contact me at for an instructor's manual. You can find more information on the book's status and on associated material at through or through

About Fiber Optics
Fiber optics has come a long way since I wrote the first edition of Understanding Fiber Optics in 1987. Optical-fiber communications was a radical new technology then, used mostly for high-capacity, long-distance transmission of telephone signals. I used a 1200-baud modem to send text messages from my computer through proprietary networks. Today a fiber-optic cable to my home provides a broadband connection to the Internet. A global network of fiber-optic cables links my phone and my computer to every continent except Antarctica, and a new cable is being laid through the Arctic Ocean.

Fiber optics has revolutionized telecommunications in the same way the railroads revolutionized land transportation in the years my great-great-grandfather worked for one. Like the railroad business, the fiber-optic business has had its spectacular booms and busts. The telecommunications bubble brought dreams of riches, but the bust that followed left nightmares of ruin and grim jokes about the stocks of once high-flying companies. Yet the bubble and its aftermath are reminders that fiber optics is a technology that may be too good for its own good. Like the railroads and the Internet, fiber optics was something so good that the stock market wildly overvalued it; and like the Internet, fiber optics will be part of our future.

I wrote the first edition of this book mainly for self-study, but it is now used widely in classroom settings. My goal is to explain principles rather than to detail procedures. When you finish, you should indeed understand fiber optics. You should be able to understand what the field is all about, comprehend what you read in trade journals such as Lightwave or Laser Focus World, make sense of what people in the field are saying, and explain fiber optics to your Aunt Millie or your niece. You won't be ready to design a brand new system, but you will be literate in the field. Think of it as Fiber Optics 101, a foundation for your understanding of a growing technology.

To explain the fundamentals of fiber optics, I start with ideas that may seem basic to some readers; the details will follow. To make concepts accessible, I include drawings to show how things work, limit math to simple algebra, and step through some simple calculation to show how they work. I compare fiber optics with other common technologies and highlight similarities and differences. I have organized the book to facilitate cross-referencing and review of concepts, and made a point of adding a thorough index to make its contents accessible. I also include some information on the business side of the technology, and boxes that talk about key issues that the fiber-optics community needs to think about.

The book introduces basic concepts first, then digs deeper into hardware and applications. The chapters are organized as follows:

      • The first three chapters are an introduction and overview. Chapter 1 tells how fiber optics are used and how the technology developed. Chapter 2 introduces optics, light, and the concept of light guiding. Chapter 3 introduces other basic concepts of communications and fiber-optic systems. They assume no background in optics or telecommunications.
      • Chapters 4 through 8 cover optical fibers, their properties, and how they are assembled into cables. The material is divided into five chapters to make it easier to digest. Chapters 4 through 6 explain the fiber concepts used in the rest of the book. Chapter 7 covers special-purpose fibers used in optical amplifiers and fiber gratings, photonic-crystal or microstructured fibers, and planar waveguides. Chapter 8 is an overview of cabling.
      • Chapters 9 to 12 cover laser and LED light sources including diode and fiber lasers, optical transmitters, optical detectors, receivers, optical amplifiers, and electro-optic regenerators. Chapter 12 compares and contrasts the operation of optical amplifiers and electro-optic regenerators.
       • Chapters 13 to 16 cover other components. Chapter 13 covers connectors and splices that join fibers. Chapter 14 covers optical couplers and other passive components in simple fiber systems and describes integrated optics. Chapter 15 covers optics that send signals at many separate wavelengths through the same fibers. Chapter 16 covers optical modulation and switching for optical networking.
      • Chapter 17 covers fundamentals of optical and fiber-optic measurements and explains the quirks of optical measurements. Chapter 18 describes fiber-optic testing.
       • Chapters 19 to 22 cover general principles of fiber communication. Chapter 19 describes fundamental concepts of fiber-optic systems and optical networking and how they work in practice. Chapter 20 describes communication standards. Chapter 21 outlines design of point-to-point single-wavelength systems, with sample calculations, so you can understand their operation. Chapter 22 describes the design of optical networks.
      • Chapters 23 to 27 explain how fiber optics fit into networks used for global and regional telephone and Internet transmission, cable television, and data networks. These chapters focus on different levels and aspects of the global network to keep concepts manageable. Chapter 28 covers special systems that don't fit elsewhere, such as networks in cars, military systems, and aircraft.
      • The final two chapters describe non-communication applications. Chapter 29 explains the principles and operation of fiber-optic sensors. Chapter 30 covers imaging and illumination with fiber optics.

The glossary at the back of the book gives you quick translations of specialized terms and acronyms.

Appendices tabulate useful information, including values of important physical constants, conversion factors, and a few key formulas. They're all in one place to make them easier to find. They also include an annotated list of resources, in addition to the suggestions for further reading in each chapter. So many resources are available on the Internet that I can't hope to compile a thorough list; I encourage you to use search engines creatively. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions at

Jeff Hecht
Auburndale, Massachusetts
March 2015

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