Optics and optical fibers Creative Commons, Attribution alone (BY)
Authors: Warsaw University of Technology
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A script and supplementary materials for a lesson on light propagation and optical fibers.

Thanks to the invention of an optical fiber, it is possible to significantly increase the speed and bandwidth of the data transmission. Replacement of classic transmission cables, where the signal is transmitted by electrical impulses, by optic fibers made the high-speed Internet available also for individual users.

Proper selection of the materials for optical fibers production and the choice of the appropriate wavelengths used for transmission allow a creation of multi-kilometer sections of telecommunication networks without any electronic devices for the to the signal amplification.

Fiber optics are also excellent as sensors such as temperature and stress sensors. Because they are built entirely of dielectric materials, they are completely immune to any electromagnetic interference.

Fiber optics as sensor elements are used in the most demanding applications such as aerospace, mining and, for example, wind turbine blades monitoring.

High-speed data transmission industry is one of the fastest-growing areas of business. Many leading manufacturers of fiber optic networking equipment invest enormous resources in the development of new technologies and are constantly looking for professionals in the field.

Fiber optics has great potential for interdisciplinary applications:. - Telecommunications - as the primary component of the telecommunications network - Sensor technology - the use of optical fibers as super-accurate measuring elements resistant to electromagnetic interference - Medicine - use in endoscopy, surgery, ophthalmology, in examining biological fluids - Chemistry - as sensors e.g., concentration of various solutions

Cover image by Matthew.nq (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Knowledge acquisition gain
  Knowledge about basics physics of light propagation and its applications in optical fibers.

Workforce in Physics

In the EU, around 540,000 students are enrolled in physics, astronomy, chemistry, and earth science courses. Jobs for physicists, other scientists and engineers grew by 7% in the past five years. Jobs for technicians in the field grew by 2%. Overall, they account for 7% of all jobs in the EU. As of 2016, around 15 million European science and engineering workers are employed. They work in a variety of sectors directly related to physics, including aerospace and defence, energy, engineering, manufacturing, oil and gas, science and telecommunications. Others work in sectors such as IT and consultancy, financial services, legal, transport and utilities. In the next years, jobs for engineers and researchers will increase by 13%, and jobs for science and engineering technicians will increase by 2%.