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Hybrid Fiber Optic Cable Now Can Carry Both Data And Power

Fiber optic cables are used to isolate communications between systems or devices. In fact, it is one of the best ways to isolate communications between two devices or locations. In some exceptional cases, a fiber optic link is more safe than using traditional method. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are engaged in developing a Power-over-fiber (PoF) communications cable which is capable of carrying of both data and optical power.


Right now the market is filled with copper cables. The developers are focusing to replace the existing copper cables with their invented hybrid fiber optic cable. At present, having power limitations, PoF can’t deliver power to any house but it can supply power to small electrical devices like sensors. Therefore, it can provide data transfer.

In hybrid fiber optical cable, optical power goes through a single glass fiber. There is a laser diode at one end of the optical cable. While miniaturizing photovoltaic cell at the other end of that fiber optic which converts it into electricity, the light emits. It is designed in such a way that, unless power is demanded, it won’t be delivered. Therefore, it saves energy.

Data goes through plastic optical fibers. It is connected to stacked circular circuit boards with LEDs, mounted in the backshell connector housings at either end of the cable. Though the first version of the PoF cable could just deliver only optical power to the cable’s internal electronics for data communication between devices but the next version of the PoF will use less-bulky glass fibers for both power and communications. Whereas the current prototype uses the optical power solely to run its own communications electronics, the second version of the PoF cable will also provide power to outside devices.

‘The key issue here is to maintain total electrical isolation from any stray electrical energy and high-voltage electrical surges caused by such things as lightning strikes,’ said Sanderson. According to Appel and Sanderson, this developed hybrid fiber optic cable can be used in security, explosives, explosion-proof devices, aviation and medical devices. The team have already experimented a PoF-based low-energy detonator firing cable, which carries data regarding detonator resistance, temperature and charging voltages, while also delivering power to the detonator.

Right now, the team is working on to reduce the size, weight and cost of the technology. Hope so, their dreams will come true and people will be benifited.

Source : Sandia National Laboratories

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