Step-index profile

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For an optical fiber, a step-index profile is a refractive index profile characterized by a uniform refractive index within the core and a sharp decrease in refractive index at the core-cladding interface so that the cladding is of a lower refractive index. The step-index profile corresponds to a power-law index profile with the profile parameter approaching infinity. The step-index profile is used in most single-mode fibers[1] and some multimode fibers.[2]

A step-index fiber is characterized by the core and cladding refractive indices n1 and n2 and the core and cladding radii a and b. Examples of standard core and cladding diameters 2a/2b are 8/125, 50/125, 62.5/125, 85/125, or 100/140 (units of µm). The fractional refractive-index change \triangle \, = \frac{n_1 - n_2}{n_1} \ll \ 1. The value of n1 is typically between 1.44 and 1.46, and \triangle is typically between 0.001 and 0.02.

Step-index optical fiber is generally made by doping high-purity fused silica glass (SiO2) with different concentrations of materials like titanium, germanium, or boron.

Pulse dispersion in a step index optical fiber is given by

\text{pulse dispersion} = \frac{\triangle\ n_1\ \ell}{c}\,\!


\triangle\,\! is the difference in refractive indices of core and cladding.

n_1\,\! is the refractive index of core

\ell\,\! is the length of the optical fiber under observation

c = 3 \times 10^8\,\mathrm{ms}^{-1} \,\!

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SINGLE MODE STEP-INDEX FIBERS". Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  2. ^ "Fiber Optics Overview". Retrieved 2012-11-23. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the General Services Administration document "Federal Standard 1037C" (in support of MIL-STD-188).