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What is a fiber optic cable?

Learn how fiber optic cable transmits messages by directing beams of light.

Fiber optic cable is composed of thin strands of coated glass fiber. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Fiber optic cable is composed of thin strands of coated glass fiber.

A fiber optic cable is composed of many very thin strands of coated glass fibers. It can transmit messages or images by directing beams of light inside itself over very short or very long distances (thousands of miles). The pattern of light waves forms a code that carries a message. At the receiving end, the light beams are converted back into electric current and decoded.

Since light beams are immune to electrical noise and can be carried greater distances before fading, this technology is used heavily in telecommunications. Other applications include using medical fiber optic viewers, such as endoscopes and fiberscopes, to see internal organs; fiber optic message devices in aircraft and space vehicles; and fiber optic connections in automotive lighting systems.

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