It might not be the most exciting, or the most interesting invention but fiber optics have changed our world in more ways than you can imagine.
The ability to transmit data using pulses of light has opened the door for many world-changing innovations in medicine, manufacturing, and communications
Here are just a few of our favourites.
In the 1840s, physicists Daniel Collodon and Jacques Babinet showed that light could be directed along jets of water for fountain displays. A mere 30 years later, Alexander Graham Bell developed the technology to transmit voice signals over an optical beam. The telephone connected the world in a way that previously wasn’t possible. We still use the same technology today.
Fiber optic cables can transmit large amounts of data at very high speeds. That’s why the technology is widely used in internet cables. Compared to the more traditional copper wires, fiber optic cables are lighter, more flexible and able to carry a lot more data.
Surgery and dentistry
Fiber optic cables are widely used in medical procedures. Optical communication is an important part of non-intrusive surgical methods, popularly known as endoscopy. As part of these procedures, a bright light is used to illuminate an area within the body. This helps to reduce the number and size of incisions made.
Think about all the electronic devices that are in your car, from your radio to your GPS. Manufacturers use fiber optic cables to connect all of these devices to each other. They also play an important part in a car’s safety features like airbags.
Prosthetics have come a long way in the last 50 years. However, they still have one major drawback, the user can not feel what they are touching. Thanks to fiber optics, this could be about to change. Researchers are currently working on real-feel prosthetics which will use fiber wiring to send pulses of light to the user’s neurons. This will hopefully allow amputees to physically feel touch again in the future.