The University of Southampton

OPTO6008 Optical Fibre Technology I

Module Overview

Knowledge of basic principles of fibre optics will make up a significant part of the necessary skill base for students on the Optical Fibre Technologies MSc. In-depth knowledge of optical fibres as the light guiding medium is vital for understanding most other areas of optical fibre technology (telecommunications, sensors), and as support for the final project work. This module will describe four core areas – the key concepts of light propagation in optical fibre waveguides, various types of optical fibres and how they work, the key concepts of optical fibre fabrication and characterisation, together with the most common fibre components, thus making a foundational introduction for the rest of the modules in the MSc programme. This module is introductory, and its material is intended to introduce the field of fibre optics to relative newcomers. The skills and knowledge acquired during this course will form the foundation for much of the material taught in the Semester 2 courses, and for the final projects in Semester 3 of the MSc programme.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of the module is to provide an introduction to passive optical fibre technology. Fundamentals of propagation of light through optical fibres would be introduced first. The operating principles and key properties of a variety of optical fibres will be covered followed by technologies relating to fibre fabrication and fibre characterisation. Finally, fibre components and their conceptual operation will be introduced and two key application areas of optical fibre technology – telecommunications and optical sensors – will be briefly introduced.

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
  • Appreciate various types of optical fibres and their key properties
  • Appreciate basic operational principles and parameters of components made from optical fibres and fibre components used in optical fibre based systems
  • Appreciate a range of methods of fabrication and characterisation of optical fibres and optical
  • fibre-based components
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
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
  • Be able to assess the suitability of different optical fibres for particular applications
  • Make quantitative calculations of the properties of optical fibres based on the knowledge of their parameters and materials used
  • Understand the concept of guided modes in dielectric fibres


Part 1: Light propagation through optical fibres Overview of optical fibre technologies. Maxwell’s equations, the wave equation, and 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: Fibre types Silica fibre basics (germanosilicate, phosphosilicate and aluminosilicate) – single-mode and multimode. Specialty silica fibres (polarisation-maintaining, highly-nonlinear, polarising, ...). Non-silica fibre basics (soft-glasses (tellurite, chalcogenide, fluoride), bismuth-oxide, polymers, etc.). Photonic bandgap fibres (solid core, hollow-core). Part 3: Fibre fabrication and characterisation Fabrication technology of silica-based fibres. Fabrication technology of non-silica-based fibres. Methods for characterising fibres. Fibre reliability (governing standards, standards for testing, maximum power handling capability, fibre fuse, etc.). Characterisation of fibre glass material. Part 4: Fibre components and Introduction to applications Fibre components (couplers, isolators, circulators, thin film filters, Bragg gratings, long- period gratings, poled fibres, etc.). Introduction to optical fibre telecommunications. Introduction to optical fibre sensors.

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

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

Resources & Reading list

Govind Agrawal. Nonlinear Fiber Optics. 

Eugene Hecht. Optics. 

Encyclopaedia of laser physics & technology.



MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2.5 hours) 80%
Problem Classes  () 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2.5 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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