Special Reviews

Effects of Random Perturbations in Plastic Optical Fibers

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Science  14 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5379, pp. 962-967
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5379.962

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The most important feature of an optical fiber waveguide is its bandwidth, which defines its information-carrying capacity. A major limitation on the bandwidth of multimode glass and plastic optical fibers is modal dispersion, in which different optical modes propagate at different velocities and the dispersion grows linearly with length. However, in plastic optical fibers, experimental and theoretical results indicate that the modes are not independent but are highly coupled, which leads to a characteristic square-root length dependence and an unanticipated large enhancement of the bandwidth to gigahertz levels. The ever increasing demands for low-cost, high-bandwidth communications media for voice, video, and data transmission in short- and medium-distance applications are generating a new assessment of multimode optical fibers to serve as high-speed fiber links.

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