Inquiry CartInquiry Cart
Home - blog

How Do Fiber Optic Splitters Work, and What Are Their Industrial Applications?

December 22, 2023

What are the Types of Fiber Optic Splitters?


In the realm of fiber optics, splitters play a crucial role in distributing optical signals. They come in various types, each with distinct characteristics and applications.

Fused Biconical Taper (FBT) Splitters

FBT splitters are one of the earliest types of fiber optic splitters. They utilize a process known as ‘fused biconic tapering’ to divide optical signals. This involves heating and stretching two fibers until they form a single core, then pulling them apart to create a coupling region.

Planar Lightwave Circuit (PLC) Splitters

PLC splitters are a more modern type of splitter that uses waveguide technology to split optical signals. They offer a broader operating wavelength range compared to FBT splitters and are more suitable for large-scale applications due to their compact size and reliability.

Beam Splitters and Split Configuration

Beam splitters, unlike other types, work by refracting light at a designated angle. They are typically used in applications like interferometry and quantum optics. The split configuration, on the other hand, refers to how the input light signal is distributed among the output ports.

LGX and Rack-Mount Splitters

LGX and rack-mount splitters are essentially packaging styles that allow for easy integration into existing network infrastructure. LGX splitters are designed to fit into LGX-compatible racks or enclosures, while rack-mount splitters come in a 1U or 2U form factor, suitable for standard 19″ or 23″ frames.

LGX and Rack-Mount Splitters
LGX and Rack-Mount Splitters

1×8 and 1×4 Splitter Configurations

1×8 and 1×4 splitter configurations refer to the number of input and output channels. A 1×8 configuration has one input and eight outputs, while a 1×4 configuration has one input and four outputs. These configurations are commonly used in networks that require multiple branching points.

How Does a Fiber Optic Splitter Operate?


Fiber optic splitters are critical components in telecommunications, providing an efficient way to distribute optical signals across multiple paths. Let’s delve into their working mechanism.

Optical Signal Splitting and Output Port

A fiber optic splitter operates by splitting an incoming optical signal into several output signals. The input signal is divided among the output ports, depending on the specified split ratio. This process happens without any need for external power, making these devices passive components.

Passive Optical Network (PON) and Optical Power

In a Passive Optical Network (PON), fiber optic splitters play a significant role in distributing the optical power among various users. They enable a single optical fiber to serve multiple endpoints by splitting the incoming signal into several outputs.

Light Beam Splitting and Waveguide

The process of light beam splitting involves directing the incoming light beam onto a waveguide that has been designed to distribute the light equally into separate paths. This waveguide could be a simple geometric structure or a more complex planar lightwave circuit.

Fiber Core, Insertion Loss, and Split Ratio

The core of the fiber optic cable carries the light signal. The insertion loss refers to the reduction in power density (sign) that results from inserting a component into a system. In the case of splitters, it is primarily determined by the split ratio, which defines the percentage of the incoming signal that is directed to each output.

Fiber Core, Insertion Loss, and Split Ratio
Fiber Core, Insertion Loss, and Split Ratio

Uniformity and Bandwidth in Fiber Optic Splitting

Uniformity is a crucial aspect in fiber optic splitting, referring to the even distribution of signal power among all output ports. It ensures that all connected devices receive a similar signal strength. Meanwhile, bandwidth pertains to the range of frequencies that the splitter can effectively handle without causing significant signal degradation.

What are the Industrial Applications of Fiber Optic Splitters?


Fiber optic splitters find extensive use across numerous industries. Let’s explore their applications in various sectors, from telecommunications to industrial automation.

Optical Networks and Passive Optical Networks (PON)

Optical networks rely heavily on fiber optic splitters for signal distribution. In Passive Optical Networks (PON), splitters are used to distribute optical signals from one single fiber to multiple endpoints, making them essential for broadband distribution in residential, commercial, and metropolitan areas.

Telecommunication and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTx)

In the telecommunication industry, fiber optic splitters are instrumental in implementing Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTx) solutions. These solutions deliver high-speed internet services directly to homes or businesses. The splitter evenly distributes the incoming signal to all the connected lines, ensuring reliable connectivity.

Internet Service Providers and Data Centers

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use fiber optic splitters in their infrastructure to distribute Internet services to multiple customers simultaneously. Similarly, data centers employ these splitters to manage high data traffic, ensuring efficient distribution of data across various servers and systems.

Internet Service Providers and Data Centers
Internet Service Providers and Data Centers

Industrial Automation and Control Systems

In industrial automation and control systems, fiber optic splitters play a crucial role in transmitting signals over long distances without signal degradation. They are used to distribute calls to different machines and components in the system, aiding in efficient and synchronized operations.

How do you choose a suitable fiber optic splitter for an application?


Selecting the appropriate fiber optic splitter for a specific application is crucial for optimal performance. This involves considering several factors, from the mode of fiber to the connector type.

Single Mode and Multimode Fiber Optic Splitters

Single-mode splitters are suitable for long-distance applications due to their low attenuation and high bandwidth capabilities. They use a single ray of light (mode) to carry data and are typically used in telecom and CATV applications. On the other hand, multimode splitters utilize multiple beams of light simultaneously, ideal for short-range data and audio/video applications.

Wavelength and Connector Type Considerations

Different applications require different wavelengths, typically ranging between 850nm to 1625nm. Ensure the splitter supports the required wavelength range. Additionally, consider the connector type (LC, SC, FC, etc.) as it must be compatible with the existing fiber optic equipment.

Fiber Couplers, Patch Cables, and Input/Output Configuration

Fiber couplers, often used interchangeably with splitters, combine or split the light power in optical fibers and can function as both input and output devices. Patch cables connect the splitter to the equipment, so it’s essential to choose high-quality cables for reliable performance. The input/output configuration (1×2, 1×4, etc.) depends on the number of required output channels.

Split Ratio and Use of PLC Fiber Optic Splitters

The split ratio determines how the input optical power is distributed among the output ports. It should be chosen based on the application’s requirements. Planar Lightwave Circuit (PLC) splitters are widely used due to their ability to split the input power evenly across all output ports, making them ideal for high-density networks.

Split Ratio and Use of PLC Fiber Optic Splitters
Split Ratio and Use of PLC Fiber Optic Splitters

Fiber Optic Splitter Fusion and Epoxy Bonding

The method of attaching fibers to the splitter can impact its performance. Fusion splicing offers a low-loss and high-strength joint, while epoxy bonding is more straightforward and quicker but may result in higher loss. The choice between the two depends on the specific application needs and the resources available.

What are the Key Features and Specifications of Fiber Optic Splitters?


Understanding the key features and specifications of fiber optic splitters is crucial to their practical application. This article delves into those specifics.

Input Fiber and Output Ports in Fiber Optic Splitters

The input fiber in a splitter is where the incoming optical signal enters, while the output ports are where the split signals exit. The number and type of output ports largely depend on the specific application requirements and the splitting configuration.

Optical Signals and Splitting Configuration in Fiber Splitters

Fiber optic splitters handle optical signals, dividing them into multiple outputs. The splitting configuration (1xN or 2xN) defines how the input signal is divided. It is chosen based on the number of endpoints that need to be served by a single input signal.

Optical Power and Lightwave Circuit in Fiber Optic Splitters

Optical power refers to the amount of light carried by the fiber, which is split among the output ports. Planar Lightwave Circuit (PLC) splitters evenly distribute this power across all output fibers, making them ideal for applications requiring equal signal distribution.

Optical Fibers and Connectors in Fiber Optic Splitting Technology

Fiber optic splitters use either single-mode or multimode fibers, depending on the application. Single-mode fibers are used for long distances, while multimode fibers are suitable for short distances. Additionally, the connectors (LC, SC, ST, etc.) must be compatible with the existing equipment.

Splitter Uniformity and Passive Optical Components in Fiber Networks

Uniformity in fiber optic splitters ensures an even distribution of the input signal’s power among all output ports. It is a critical factor for consistent signal strength across all connected devices. Being passive components, fiber optic splitters do not require external power, further enhancing their efficiency and reliability in fiber networks.

Splitter Uniformity and Passive Optical Components in Fiber Networks
Splitter Uniformity and Passive Optical Components in Fiber Networks

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How do fiber optic splitters work?

A: Fiber optic splitters divide optical signals into multiple outputs, enabling simultaneous transmission to multiple destinations. They use technologies like fused fiber, integrated waveguide optical power distribution, or PLC-based designs.

Q: What are the industrial applications of fiber optic splitters?

A: They are essential in passive optical networks (PONs) for telecommunications, data centers, broadband services, fiber-optic sensing, network monitoring, and distributing signals for testing.

Q: What is an optical splitter?

A: An optical splitter is a passive component that divides incoming optical signals into multiple outputs, maintaining signal quality. It is vital for managing optical signals in various network architectures.

Q: What types of fiber cables are compatible with fiber optic splitters?

A: Fiber optic splitters work with various fiber cables, including single-mode fiber (SMF) and multimode fiber (MMF), depending on network requirements and the optical signals being transmitted.

Q: What is the role of fused fiber in fiber optic splitters?

A: Fused fiber technology in splitters creates a device that divides optical power from one or two input fibers into multiple outputs. This ensures efficient signal splitting with minimal signal loss.

Q: How does a PLC (Planar Lightwave Circuit) splitter work?

A: PLC splitters use an integrated waveguide optical power distribution device for efficient signal splitting. It evenly distributes input signals into multiple outputs, enabling reliable signal transmission.

Q: What is the significance of return loss in fiber optic splitters?

A: Return loss is the power loss due to light signal reflection within the splitter. Minimizing return loss maintains optimal signal transmission and network integrity.

Q: Do fiber optic splitters support both single-mode and multimode optical signals?

A: Yes, they are designed to support both single-mode and multimode optical signals, making them versatile for different network configurations and applications.

Q: How are fiber optic splitters used in passive optical networks (PONs)?

A: They allow a single PON interface to serve multiple users, enabling efficient and cost-effective distribution of optical signals for telecommunications and broadband services.

Q: What are the different configurations of fiber optic splitters?

A: They are available in configurations such as 1×2, 1×4, 1×8, and higher ratios, depending on the application and the number of needed output fibers.



Here are five reliable sources that provide comprehensive information about how fiber optic splitters work and their industrial applications:

  1. Fiber Optics: Technology and Applications: This book serves as a resourceful guide for people in industry, government, and universities wishing to understand the implications of emerging optical fiber technology and its applications.
  2. Distributed Fiber-Optic Sensors: Principles and Applications: This academic paper discusses the principles of optical fiber sensors and their applications. It also provides insight into how these technologies are evaluated in the visual communications industry.
  3. Fiber Optic Sensors: This document provides an introduction to fiber optic sensor technology and some of its applications. It specifically mentions the use of polarizing beam splitters to separate signals.
  4. Remote Optical Powering Using Fiber Optics in Hazardous Environments: This IEEE article discusses the use of fiber optics, including 1×2 optical splitters, in hazardous environments. It provides valuable insights into the specific regulations and standards in industries.
  5. Optical Fiber Sensors: Working Principle, Applications, and Limitations: This article explores the working principles, applications, and limitations of optical fiber sensors. It highlights the advantages of utilizing fiber optics in various sectors, including biomedical and industrial fields.

Each of these sources provides valuable insights into the workings of fiber optic splitters and their industrial applications, making them valuable resources for anyone interested in this topic.