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How Fiber Optic Splitter Work

2023-10-18

Fiber optic splitters, also known as beam splitters or couplers, are essential components in optical communication systems. They allow a single optical signal to be split into multiple signals or combined multiple signals into a single one. Fiber optic splitters work based on the principle of light wave interference and rely on the properties of the optical fibers used.

There are two main types of fiber optic splitters: fused couplers (also known as fused biconical taper couplers) and planar lightwave circuit (PLC) splitters. Here's how each type works:

  1. Fused Couplers:

    • In fused couplers, two or more optical fibers are fused together at the microscopic level to create a single fused fiber with a tapered region in the middle.
    • The fused region acts as a waveguide that guides light from one fiber to another. When light enters the tapered region, it undergoes splitting due to the difference in refractive index between the core and cladding of the fibers.
    • The splitting ratio is determined by the length of the tapered region and the composition of the fibers used.
    • For example, a 1x2 fused coupler can take one input signal and split it into two output signals.
  2. Planar Lightwave Circuit (PLC) Splitters:

    • PLC splitters use a different technology called waveguide optics, where optical waveguides are fabricated on a planar substrate, typically made of silica glass.
    • The input optical signal is guided through the waveguide circuit, and the signal is split into multiple output paths based on the design of the waveguide circuit.
    • PLC splitters can achieve a wide range of splitting ratios, such as 1x2, 1x4, 1x8, 1x16, and more.
    • PLC splitters are widely used in passive optical networks (PONs) for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments.

In both types of splitters, the split signals retain the same optical properties, such as wavelength and phase, as the original input signal. This property allows fiber optic splitters to be used in various applications, such as distributing optical signals to multiple receivers in a network or combining signals from multiple transmitters into a single fiber.

Fiber optic splitters play a crucial role in optical communication systems, enabling the efficient and reliable distribution of optical signals over long distances with minimal signal loss or distortion.

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