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The University of Southampton

OPTO6008 Optical Fibres

Module Overview

In-depth knowledge of optical fibres as a light guiding medium is vital for understanding most other areas of optical fibre technology (telecommunications, sensors), and as support for practical work in this field. This module will describe the core areas of passive optical fibres. Fundamentals of propagation of light through optical fibres will be introduced. Knowledge of optical materials as a fundamental tool for understanding optical fibres, including their various types and fabrication will be covered. The operating principles and key properties of a variety of optical fibres will be followed by technologies relating to fibre fabrication and fibre characterisation. Finally, nonlinear phenomena and their application in fibre optics will be briefly introduced.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of the module is to provide an introduction to passive optical fibre technology. The module is introductory in nature, and its material is intended to introduce the field of fibre optics to relative newcomers. The skills and knowledge acquired during this module will provide a solid foundation for further work in more advanced areas.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Appreciate the physics of propagation of light in optical fibres
  • Understand the fundamentals of optical materials and recognise the importance of optical materials in fibre optics
  • Appreciate various types of optical fibres and their key properties
  • Appreciate a range of methods of fabrication and characterisation of optical fibres
  • Understand nonlinear optical phenomena in optical fibres
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand how key fibre parameters influence the fibre waveguiding properties
  • Appreciate the influence of materials upon the performance of optical fibres
  • Make quantitative calculations of the properties of optical fibres based on the knowledge of their parameters and materials used
  • Understand the concept of nonlinear phenomena in dielectric fibres
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a variety of information sources (lectures, web, journals) to understand & solve problems (in this case for optical fibre technologies)
  • Use feedback from problem classes to prepare for answering examination questions


Part 1: Light propagation through optical fibres (4 weeks incl. 2 assignments) Overview of optical fibre technologies. Maxwell’s equations. The wave equation. Dispersion relations applied to fibre geometries. Optical fields in solid-core optical fibres (guided modes, single and multi-mode guidance). Signal guiding in ‘holey’ fibres. Part 2: Materials and fibre types (2 weeks incl. 1 assignment) The glassy phase (introduction to crystalline and non-crystalline solids). Novel and multi-component glasses. Thermal analysis/stability of glasses . Characterisation of fibre glass material. Silica fibre basics (germanosilicate, phosphosilicate and aluminosilicate). Specialty silica fibres (polarisation-maintaining, polarising, highly-nonlinear, photosensitive, etc.). Non-silica fibre basics (soft-glasses (tellurite, chalcogenide, fluoride), bismuth-oxide, polymers, etc.). Photonic bandgap fibres (solid core, hollow-core), silica and non-silica versions. Part 3: Fibre fabrication and characterisation (4 weeks incl. 2 assignments and lab demonstrations) Fabrication technology of silica-based fibres. Fabrication technology of non-silica-based fibres. Methods for characterising fibres. Optical fibre loss mechanisms. Optical fibre characterisations (loss/microscopy/composition). Fibre reliability (governing standards, standards for testing, maximum power handling capability, fibre fuse, etc.). Part 4: Introduction to nonlinear optics in optical fibres (2 weeks incl. 1 assignment) Nonlinear susceptibility. Nonlinear wave equation. Nonlinear interactions (SHG and phase matching). Nonlinear fibre optics. Short pulse propagation in fibres (NLSE). Dispersion and nonlinearity (pulse solutions). Gain, engineered dispersion, and nonlinearity.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The course consists of 2 lectures per week plus a bi-weekly workshop/surgery. Printed lecture notes and self-study packs will be provided for parts of the course. - Learning activities include - Attending lectures, problems classes, and exam preparation

Completion of assessment task15.5
Wider reading or practice62.5
Preparation for scheduled sessions13
Follow-up work13
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Eugene Hecht. Optics. 

H. Rawson. Inorganic Glass-forming Systems. 

Govind Agrawal. Nonlinear Fiber Optics. 

Encyclopaedia of laser physics & technology.



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2.5 hours) 70%
Problem Classes  () 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2.5 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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