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Fiber Optics System Design

System Design Considerations

 All of these considerations are inter-related,
and transmission distance is the predominant
 Transmission distance affects the strength of
the transmitter output, which dictates the
type of light source used.
 It impacts fiber type, as single-mode fiber is
better suited to long distance transmission.
 Transmitter and fiber type dictate receiver
type and sensitivity.
System Design Procedure
 The system designers must proceed through the
following five steps in order to develop a fiber
optic communication system:
 1.Specify the system's operational requirements.
 2.Describe the physical and environmental
 3.Compute the signal optical power budget.
 4.Perform a signal bandwidth analysis.
 5.Review the system design.
 Important considerations in these steps of
the design process are detailed below.
System Operational Requirements
(Step 1)
 The system design process begins with a
determination of the signal-to-noise ratio
which depends on the bandwidth or data rate
for an application.
 This implies a choice of signal types, either
analog or digital, since even a simple point-
to-point link will employ appropriate
 The goal is to establish what optical power
level will be required at the optical detector
inside the receiver unit.
System Requirements contd..,
 Fiber can handle either analog or digital transmission
and it offers the additional option of future upgrading
by simply changing the electronics hardware at the
transmitter and receiver ends.
 For this reason most fiber system designers specify
more fiber bandwidth capacity than is minimally
 Today most of the lightwave applications use digital
transmission techniques.
Fiber Optic System for analog or
digital transmission
Digital Signals
 In fiber optics, a digital pulse can be formed
by turning the source "on" for a brief instant.
 The time of optical radiation emission is the
 A binary "1" state can be used to represent
optical power turned "on", while a binary "0"
state is used to represent "off".
 These two states represent binary signals.
Digital Signals contd..,
 Digital signals consist of a series of bits that result in
the emitter being "on" or "off".

 The time it takes for a pulse to reach full amplitude is

the rise time.
 rise time budget describes the transmission device’s
ability to turn on and off fast enough.
 Faster rise and fall times allow more pulses per
second, consequently more bits of information can be
Digital Signals contd..,
 In digital systems one parameter for system
performance is bit error rate (BER).
 The majority of digital systems achieve a BER of 10-
9, 10-12 (1 error in 10 exp 9 bits = 1 error in
1,000,000,000 bits).
 There is a length dependence with digital systems
because the farther a pulse has to travel down a fiber
the more distortion occurs.
 Once the application (TV, telephone, or computer),
the type of signals (analog, digital), and the data rate
have been determined, the next step is to describe
the physical layout and environmental requirements.
System Layout (Step 2)
 To determine the components necessary to complete
a fiber optic system requires detailing run lengths
and determining system operating environments.
 A simple point-to-point system or a more elaborate
local area network involving telephone, data, video
etc., links can be made with in the network.
 Current fiber optic technology employs a separate
fiber to transmit the signals in one direction.

View of cable assembly in a simple fiber optic link

 Therefore most point-to-point systems will require at
least two fibers for duplex communications. Higher
fiber count cables are also readily available.
 The system designer should develop a layout
schematic similar to the one shown below and use
the resulting information on the worksheets.
Optical Link Loss Budget (step 3)
 While designing a system can be complex,
several techniques simplify this process.
 One such technique is used to determine the
link’s optical loss budget, which evaluates the
transmitter output power, the operating
wavelength, fiber attenuation, fiber
bandwidth, and receiver optical sensitivity.
 This is a logical way to proceed with
designing a fiber optic link involves analyzing
the fiber optic link power budget, also called
an optical link loss budget.
 The difference in light level between what the optical
transmitter puts out to the minimum level of light
required by the optical receiver to work correctly is
called the optical power budget.
 If the optical path (including fibres, connectors,
splices, and any other components) has less optical
loss than allowed in the optical power budget then
the communications link will function correctly.
 If the optical path has more loss than the optical
power budget then the link will not work.
Optical Link Loss Budget
Optical Link Loss Budget contd..,
 A practical link must tolerate some range of optical
 Environmental considerations must also be made.
 Start with the transmitter output power on the left
side of the chart.
 The typical launch power is -12.5 dBm.
 Temperature affects the performance of LEDs and
lasers as well as the optical fiber itself.
 So the transmitter LED output power can vary by ±2
dB. This can even happen due to manufacturing
variability of the LED itself.
Optical Link Loss Budget contd..,
 Therefore, the output power can be as high
as -10.5 dBm or as low as -14.5 dBm.
 The block is shaded between these two
 Further transmitter variations of ±2 dB result
from the effects of temperature on the
electronics and the electro-optics (e.g., LED
or laser).
 Another potential ±2 dB of loss is due to
variations in the optical coupling to the
transmitter output.
Optical Link Loss Budget contd..,
 The effects of aging, typically 1-3 dB, should
be included in the system’s design.
 The next factor involves the losses due to
optical connectors that may be in the optical
path. The graphic allows 2 dB for this factor.
 For this system, the loss due to the optical
fiber itself amounts to 4 dB/km of length.
Optical Link Loss Budget contd..,
 Multiply this value times the actual length to
determine the loss due to the fiber.
 considerations for temperature effects
associated with most fibers usually yield ±1
 The next factor, variation in loss at the
receiver, requires a large-area detector to
eliminate the effects of this parameter.
 Finally, a 3 dB safety margin should be built
into all systems. At each step, any variation
causes the shaded band to enlarge
Optical Link Loss Budget contd..,
 Building installations will generally require
safety testing for fire safety, EMI radiation, or
other parameter specific to the application
 Certain environments present more hazards
for fiber optic systems than others, which
may impact the type of cable that can be
 A good system design must consider these
Optical Link Loss Budget contd..,
 On the right side of the chart the receiver has
to cope with optical inputs as high as -5.5
dBm and as low as -31.5 dBm.
 Or stated differently, the receiver would need
an optical loss range or optical dynamic range
of 26 dB.
 Once the receiver and transmitter power
levels have been established it is possible to
consider the power transmitted by various
cable lengths.
Optical Link Loss Budget contd..,
 A sensitivity analysis determines the minimum
optical power that must be received in order
to achieve the required system performance.
 The receiver sensitivity can be affected by
source intensity noise, inherent to the light
source being used, fiber noise, inherent to
the optical fiber, receiver noise, inherent in
the detector used, time jitter, and bit error
 When calculating the power budget for a new
link it is necessary to allow a margin above
the minimum light level required by the
receiver to allow for the changes that occur
during the life of the link, including
equipment aging and optical path changes.
Fiber selection
 The type of fiber to be selected depends on the
application and more than that depends on the
transmitter distance.
 For longer distances, single mode fiber is preferred
 For shorter distances, multimode fiber is preferred.
Optical Fiber Cable performance
Bandwidth Analysis (Step 4)
 While attenuation is one major determinant in fiber
optic system performance, bandwidth is the other.
 Here the goal is to assure that all components have
sufficient bandwidth to transmit the required signal.
 Local area networks typically require 20 to 600 MHz-
km fiber bandwidth.
 On the other hand, long-haul telephone systems
employ large distances between repeaters and
require the 100,000 MHz-km fiber bandwidths
associated with single mode fiber.
System Review (Step 5)
 Now is the time for the system designer to
review all of the pieces to determine that all
work together to deliver the right signal to
the right place at the right time.
 The number of fibers or a cable depends on
the signal carrying capacity desired.
 Cables employing fibers with special high
bandwidths are available as custom products.
 The complete cable structure can be established using the
following criteria:
 Cable Construction:
Hybrid All Dielectric Metal Strength Members
 Jacket Materials:
PVC Polyurethane Polyethylene Other
 Environmental Protection Flame Retardancy (or UL
Sunlight Resistance
Water Resistance
Water Blocking (gel fill)
Rodent Protection (armor)
Nuclear Radiation Resistance
 Chemical Resistance:
To Oil Acid Alkali Solvents
 Fiber Features:
Number of Fibers
Fiber Type
Core Size
NA (numerical aperture)
Double Window
 Specific materials and multi-fiber construction have
resulted in numerous cable designs which incorporate a
variety of fibers to meet specific applications
FO System Design
 In some an application engineer can help the
design engineer during the process.
 Once you’ve determined your need for fiber
and the basic system requirements, an
applications engineer can step you through
the technical details.
 Some common questions you’ll be expected
to answer include
Design requirements
 1. What is the fiber loss for your system?
 This is not the same as optical loss; it refers to the
bandwidth•distance product which describes how
much optical attenuation occurs over a certain length
of fiber.
 If the system is previously installed and is being
upgraded, this information is probably readily
 If the installation is new, knowing the transmission
distance (i.e. the distance between the transmitter
and the receiver) can help an applications engineer
calculate the fiber loss.
Design requirements contd..,
 The fiber loss will determine transmitter
optical output requirements and/or the
inclusion of regenerators in the fiber path.
 2. What type of signals do you wish to
 This includes video signals, audio signals,
data signals, and also indicates whether or
not the signal will be digital or analog.
Design requirements contd..,
 3. What type of fiber will be used?
 Here the choices are multimode or single-
 Transmission distance, signal type and
application will predetermine the best fiber
 Typically long distance, high speed, or
multichannel transmission require single-
mode fiber, while short distance, low speed,
and single channel transmission will allow the
use of less expensive multimode fiber.
Design requirements contd..,
 4. What optical connectors will be used?
 As with fiber type, different systems will have
different requirements. Connectors may be specified
to reduce backreflection, increase ease of installation,
meet dense packaging requirements, or interface
with connectors in an existing system.
 5. What configuration will the system require?
 This generally refers to the topology of the system,
which may be point-to-point, ring, or fanout. In
broadcast networks, configurations also include
add/drop/repeat topologies.
System design
 For a fiber optics span of 100km length, there are 4
connectors each having 1 dB loss, 2 splices of 0.04
dB loss per unit, and fiber attenuation of 0.3 dB/km.
If transmitted power is -15 dbm and Rx sensitivity is
-20 to -25 dbm. Find out the total losses and check
whether the system design is optimized or not?