The fiber optic cable are to be used under variety of situations such as underground, outdoor poles or submerged under water. The structure of cable depends on the situation where it is to be used, but the basic cable design principles remains same.

  • Mechanical property of cable is one of the important factor for using any specific cable. Maximum allowable axial load on cable decides the length of the cable be reliably
  • Also the fiber cables must be able to absorb energy from impact loads. The outer sheath must be designed to protect glass fibers from impact loads and from corrosive environmental

Fiber Arrangements

  • Several arrangements of fiber cables are done to use it for different The most basic form is two fiber cable design. Fig. 1.10.1 shows basic two fiber cable design. It is also known as basic building block of fiber cable.
  • For providing strength to the core several coatings of different materials are applied as shown in fig 10.1.

  • Multiple fiber cable can be combined together using similar Fig. 1.10.2 shows commonly used six fiber cable.
  • The basic fiber building blocks are used to form large cable. These units are bound on a buffer material which acts as strength element along with insulated copper The fiber building blocks are surrounded by paper tape, PVC jacket, yarn and outer sheath.

Fiber Optic Cable Ducts

  • Number of cores are bundled in plastic ducts. To ease identification, individual fibers are colour coded Table 10.1 shows an example of the colour coding used by manufacturers.

Fiber number























Pink or light blue


Tur quoise or neutral

Table 1.10.1 Fiber colour coding

  • If there are more than 12 fibers in a tube they are usually bundled together in quantities of 12 and held together with a coloured binding

Cable Jacket

The cable jacket, the final outer layer of the cable, may use a number of materials depending on the required mechanical properties, attenuation, environmental stress and flammability. Table 1.10.2 lists the properties of common cable jacket materials.

Jacket material


Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Mechanical protection; different grades offer flame retardancy and outdoor use. Also for

indoor and general applications.

Gypalon ®

Can withstand extreme environments; flame retardant; good thermal stability; resistant to

oxidation, ozone and radiation.

Polyethylene (PE)

Used for telephone cables; resistant to chemicals and moisture; low-cost; flammable,

so not used in electronic application.

Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)

Low-coast; excellent mechanical and chemical



Used over single conductors to improve

physical properties





Kynar ® (Polyvinylidene Fluoride)

Resistant to abrasions, cuts; thermally stable; resistant to most chemicals; low smoke emission; self-extinguishing. Used in highly

flame retardant plenum cables.

Teflon ® FEP

Zero smoke emission, even when exposed to direct flame. Suitable to temperatures of 200

oC; chemically insert. Used in highly flame retardant plenum cables.

Tefzel ®

Many of the same properties as Teflon; rated

for 150 oC; self-extinguishing.

Irradiated cross-linked Polyolefin (XLPE)

Rated for 150 oC; high resistance to

environmental stress, cracking, cut-through, ozone, solvents and soldering.

Zero Halogen Thermoplastic

Low toxicity makes it usable in any enclosed

Kevlar, Hyplon, Tefzel and Teflon are registered trademarks of E.I. Du Pont Nemours and

Company. Kynar is a registered trademark of Pennwalt, Inc.

Table 1.10.2 Properties of cable jacket material

Plastic Fiber Optic Cables

  • Fibers can also be manufactured from transparent plastic which offers advantages of larger diameter (1 mm), increased flexibility, can be cut using a hot razor blade, ease of But because of high intrinsic loss use of plastic fibers is normally restricted to only few metres.
  • Plastic optic fiber (POF) offers noise immunity and low cable weight and volume and is competitive with shielded copper wire making it suitable for industrial applications.
  • Silica (glass) optical fiber has better transmission characteristics (Low loss) than POF. Also, silica fiber can tolerate higher temperature than plastic fiber. On the other hand, POF is more flexible, less prove to breakage, easier to fabricate and cost is low than glass
  • Another advantages of glass/glass fiber is that very clean fracture surface can be obtained which ensures that fiber cladding inside the connector retains its optical characteristics right upto the end face to fiber. Whereas in plastic glass/plastic fiber some additional losses exists due to fracture zone of plastic which even after grinding and polishing still have microscope end face absorption areas. These advantages and disadvantages are summarized in Table 1.10.3.

Types of cladding



Glass/glass fiber

·         Clean fracture surface.

·         Retention       of       optical characteristics.

·         Less flexible than plastic fiber.

·         Prone to damage.

Transparent plastic/plastic fiber

·         Large diameter.

·         Increased flexibility.

·         Ease of termination.

·         High intrinsic loss.

·         Additional losses at the fracture zone.

·         Limited distances of a few metres            and            to environments protected from                 temperature


Table 1.10.3 Advantages and disadvantages of different fiber claddings

Recommended Questions

  1. State and explain the advantages and disadvantages of fiber optic communication
  2. State and explain in brief the principle of light propagation.
  3. Define following terms with respect to optical laws –
    1. Reflection
    2. Refraction
    3. Refractive index
    4. Snell’s law
    5. Critical angle
    6. Total internal reflection (TIR)
  4. Explain the important conditions for TIR to exit in fiber.
  5. Derive an expression for maximum acceptance angle of a
  6. Explain the acceptance come of a
  7. Define numerical aperture and state its significance
  8. Explain the different types of rays in fiber optic.
  9. Explain the following –
  1. Step index fiber
  2. Graded index fiber
  1. What is mean by mode of a fiber?
  2. Write short notes on following –
    1. Single mode step index fiber
    2. Multimode step index fiber
    3. Multimode graded index fiber.
  3. Explain the fiber materials used in fabrication
  4. In case of glass fibers how the refractive index can be varied?
  5. Briefly explain following techniques of
  6. i) OVPO ii) VAD

iii) MCVD    iv) PCVD

  1. v) Double crucible
  2. Comment on major mechanical properties of a
  3. Write a note on fiber