ERICH SCHREMPP / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ERICH SCHREMPP / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Fibre optics. A pair of forceps holds a fibre optic filament, while other filaments are seen in the background. Pink light is being transmitted down the filaments. Each filament (less than 1mm in diameter) is made from coated glass which is flexible and has a high refractive index. A light beam entering the end of the optical fibre is completely internally reflected along the cylindrical surface of the core. The light may thus travel along the entire optical fibre with little or no absorption. Fibre optic cables are used in a variety of imaging systems, including medical endoscopes. They may also be used to relay telephone messages as coded laser signals.
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