Fiber optics is a revolutionary innovation which brought cheaper resources at our use. Starting from cable TV, telephone connection, broadband services, and its application expands to medical services like endoscopy, laparoscopy etc., The role of fiber optics is to transmit the light energy without any loss to the receiver end. Of course it happens by the principle of Total Internal Reflection and the fiber optics obeys the same. An important aspect of the fiber optics is that it provides minimum losses even in the case of extending the length of cable through joints. In comparison with the electrical cables, optic fibres are cheaper, less prone towards noise, free from high power frequencies and much more.
The mission towards building fiber optics began 60 years ago by a Punjabi student who set off his voyage towards developing fiber optics which is notable in science and technology. Dozens of thin fibers are bound within single wire of 4 inches thick are made up of highly purified glass which are often silica and coated in a cladding of impure glass. The cables are capable of transmitting lights to 200 miles and more where the repeater could be added to improve the distance.
Narinder Singh Kapany (October 3, 1926) was born at Punjab and he is an American physicist. He was named as one of the seven “Unsung heroes” in the Fortune magazine. Kapany was educated in India and led his life at US for about 45 years. He invented fiber optics in the year 1952 during his doctorate at Imperial College, London.
In his 80s he revealed how the work towards Fiber optics began. Kapany being a precocious kid during his physics course when his professor explained that light could travel only in straight line, he was surprised and had a question that light could bend at some point of time. How could it travel straight? Here began the innovation of the fiber optics. Soon he won the Royal Society fellowship for advanced studies in optics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. This is the place where he really understood the principle of total internal reflection where the fibers were used only for medical examination like endoscopy. Out of which he even had an imagination that the light could even travel for miles long with his fiber optics.
Optics Technology Inc., is a company founded by Kapany where Luis Alvarez, the UC Berkeley Nobel prize winning physicist was one of the directors. The company succeeded and now he calls himself a “man of changed priorities.”
At UC Santa Cruz, Kapany has endowed a chair in optical electronics, and at UC Santa Barbara, a chair in Sikh Studies. He has also financed the collection of Sikh art at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and leads international activities on behalf of the Sikh community – his own tradition.
Over the next several years, fibre losses dropped dramatically, aided by improved fabrication methods and by the shift to longer wavelengths where fibers have inherently lowered attenuation. Really, a day without electricity is tiresome and a minute without communication is deadly. Fiber optics has made the world of communication to very small and promotes the effective communication through wires which are lesser in size than thickness of the human hair. Joseph Kahn, a Stanford professor of Electrical Engineering commented about the innovation saying, “It really is a miraculous technology, and the Internet couldn’t exist in its present form without it”.
Today’s fibers are so transparent that is if the Pacific Ocean, which is several kilometres deep, were to be made of this glass we could see the ocean bed!