Optical splitters are a fundamental part of fibre optic communication systems. It allows one optical signal to be split into multiple beams of light, which can be transmitted simultaneously. An optical splitter is essentially a passive device that does not require any electrical power or signal amplification for its operation. Optical splitters are found in a wide range of applications including telecommunications, internet services, and cable television.
The basic function of an optical splitter is to take a single input signal, and then split it into multiple output signals. The output signals share the same optical characteristics as the input signal. This is achieved using a series of complex technologies that involve splitting the light waves into multiple components.
There are two basic types of optical splitters: couplers and wavelength-selective splitters. Couplers are the most common form and work by dividing the input signal into smaller signals of equal strength. Each output signal carries a fraction of the total input power, and the overall loss is distributed evenly. Couplers are typically made from fused biconical taper (FBT) technology, which involves merging two or more fibre optic strands together until they form a single entity. The fused region acts as a splitter, separating the input signal into multiple output signals. Couplers are easy to manufacture and are therefore inexpensive.
Wavelength-selective splitters, on the other hand, are more advanced and can divide the input signal based on its wavelength. This type of splitter is used when different wavelengths are required for different purposes. For example, in a telecommunication system, different wavelengths are used to transmit different types of traffic such as voice, data and video. Wavelength-selective splitters use different technologies such as Array Waveguide Gratings (AWGs), which are difficult to manufacture and therefore more expensive.
Optical splitters can be used to split signals in various ratios. The most common ratios include 1:2, 1:4, 1:8, and 1:16. The higher the ratio, the more the input power is divided among the output signals. Therefore, when a signal is split repeatedly, it can reach a point where it becomes weak, and signal loss occurs.
In conclusion, the optical splitter is a simple device that plays a significant role in modern communication systems. It allows multiple signals to be carried over a single fibre-optic cable, reducing the need for additional cabling. The manufacturing of optical splitters has advanced significantly, with new technologies and materials being developed. As communication systems continue to evolve, optical splitters will play a vital role in meeting the increasing demands for bandwidth and data transmission.