Photonics Dictionary

fiber optics

The use of thin flexible glass or plastic fibers as wave guides — or "light pipes" — to channel light from one location to another. Fiber optics is based off of the principle of total internal reflection (TIR). Light enters the fiber at a particular angle of incidence. When this angle becomes larger than the "critical angle" of the fiber, the light is then reflected at the surface of the fiber and no internal losses are encountered. The light is then "trapped" and will continue to bounce back and forth at this angle down the fiber seeing very minimal loss along propagation. Fiber optics is the basis for optical communication systems.
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