An Overview of Fiber Optic Switches

As fiber optics continue to develop and improve, such technology is quickly establishing itself to be a beneficial replacement for conventional copper wiring that is presently used for a number of applications. Fiber optic switches are devices for communication control, most often utilized within optical fiber networking. In general, fiber optic technology may be used for telecommunications, television, internet, medical, defense, commercial, industrial, and other applications. In this blog, we will discuss what fiber optic switches in particular are, as well as how they function to provide for signal transferring.

Put simply, the technology of fiber optics and Fiber Optic accessories provide for the transferring of data as infrared light. To begin a transfer, an electric signal is converted into an optical signal and sent through a cable. The optical signal is then received at the point of destination and converted back into an electrical signal. Multiplexers and demultiplexers are devices that are beneficial to fiber optic data transfer, simplifying the process in various facets. Multiplexers are used to combine two or more inputs into a single signal. Demultiplexers, on the other hand, then separate those combined signals and transfer them to their respective output lines simultaneously. Often, these will be combined into a single device.

The Fiber optic switches in particular are used for switching light signals within the network from one circuit to another. Within the realm of fiber optics, switching is primarily conducted with technologies such as the mechanical switch and electromechanical switch. Mechanical switches serve as the oldest fiber optic switch type, performing with a range of 10 to 100 meters. With a mechanical switch, optical signals are collimated from each input and output fiber and then transferred within the device. While they may operate with a small range, mechanical switches are very reliable and have optimal insertion loss. When choosing between mechanical switches, configurations such as 1×1, 1×2, 1×4, 1×16 are common. Typically, mechanical switches may be present within multi-channel optical power monitoring, switching multiple laser sources within Ethernet networks, and optical local area networks.

MEMS switches are a very popular choice for fiber optics due to their versatility of use. For switching, MEMS switches utilize a micro-mirror which reflects light beams. By configuring the direction of the mirror, the path of the light beam may be adjusted and controlled for various outputs. Due to the design of the MEMS switch, temperature and vibration are not as detrimental to the switching state. In regards to configuration, MEMS switches may be 1x8, 1x12, 1x16, and so on.

Whether the system in question is a phone network or lighting wiring, fiber optics and fiber optic accessories can be very beneficial for increased performance, communications, and efficiency. As light signals are used to transfer data instead of electrical signals, electromagnetic waves pose less of a concern for interference. In regards to transmission speed for networks, fiber optics may provide for a range of 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps. Beyond great speeds and reliability, fiber optics also feature fast switching times, great stability, and low signal loss.


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