Unravelling the secrets of optical fiber


Making high-speed internet a reality

Optical fiber coatings applied to an optical fiber are a critical (yet often overlooked) component of today’s high-speed fiber networks – ensuring the high performance and longevity needed to last for 20-30 years. In fact, there would be no high-speed Internet today without a high-performance fiber coating systems on an optical fiber – and more than 50% of these coating are produced by Covestro.

Three key functions of fiber coatings

Covestro optical fiber coatings are applied to an optical fiber as a protective coating, delivering three key benefits.

Protecting very delicate strands of glass fiber (about the size of a human hair).

Allowing fiber to withstand the rigors of deployment in the field.

Minimizing signal interruption and distortion.

Optical fiber: thin as a human hair

An optical fiber is the primary transport media for the transmission of information as light pulses used in modern telecommunication systems. This is true even for your wireless devices, as these go wirelessly to the nearest cell tower, and are then sent on through optical fibers. So how does it work?"

“An optical fiber cable can contain anywhere from a few to several thousand glass fibers. The glass itself is protected by a dual layer coating system that is applied during manufacturing on an optical fiber draw tower. The fiber is then built into a cable, the structure of which is determined by the end application. This cable protects the fiber from damage. One can see these cables being installed in neighborhoods and along roadways, and possibly even going into your house."

“Information is transmitted digitally through the optical fiber using laser pulses. The laser light is contained in the core of the optical fiber using controlled refractive indexes capturing the light by use of total internal reflection. When the light goes from high refractive index to low, the light is bend back towards the high index material. This captures the light in the core of the optical fiber."

“As the light signal travels long distances, sometimes the optical signal needs to be boosted. This is done using erbium doped fiber amplifiers. These are in line lasers that boost the signal. By doing so, the distance of signal transmission can be extremely long. The longest un-regenerated terrestrial fiber optic link is 10,358.16 km (6,436.26 mi). These optical fiber cables carry the light signals around the earth through an elaborate network over land and under sea, connecting you to the world. And there you have it!”

Eric Urruti, Vice President of Research & Development  

UV-curable coatings for Telecoms

Whether you’re a cable producer a fiber manufacturer, a network owner or a consumer, our UV-curable coatings for fiber optic telecommunications offer you proven benefits. 

Could we help you solve your coating challenge?

No matter what the application, substrate or technology, there’s a good chance our team can help you.