Lasers and Fiber Optics

Lasers are awesome! We use them for medicine, science, and even entertainment.  But one of the most practical uses for a laser is the transmission of information.  The information can come in a variety of different forms, from music to television to internet.  This idea of information transfer just using light shouldn’t come as much of a shock.  Radio stations have been transmitting information using light waves for over a century.  Lasers just take this technology to the next level, allowing more data to be transferred at a quicker rate.  While radio waves can pass through most everyday objects, laser light would be blocked and the information lost.  To solve this problem engineers have invented the fiber optic cable.

A fiber optic cable is constructed in such a way that laser light cannot escape it, even though the cable is transparent.  We call this “total internal reflection”, meaning any light from inside the cable gets bounced back into the cable.  Long strings of fiber optic cables allow laser information to travel very far with very little loss of information.  If you have HD television or high speed internet, chances are that you are using a fiber optic cable and you don’t even know it.  Yay technology!

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