Fiber optics started as a branch of optics and evolved into a hybrid field that includes electronics and telecommunications. The basic concept behind a fiber is optical, and some single or bundled optical fibers are used as optical components. However, the most common use of fiber optics is in telecommunications, where many concepts originated in electronics and radio communications. Today, signals are converted back and forth between optical and electronic formats as they pass through the global telecommunications network. Fiber-optic transmitters and receivers are opto-electronic devices, part optical and part electronic. To understand fiber-optic communications, you need to learn about three fields: optics, electronics, and telecommunications.
This chapter introduces optical and electronic concepts to lay the groundwork for understanding fiber-optic components. Chapter 3 covers communications systems. Later chapters explain particular devices and systems in more detail.
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