Bandwidth-limited operation is an important concept to understand when discussing the performance of fiber optic cables. It refers to a situation in which the bandwidth of a fiber optic link, rather than the received optical power, is the limiting factor in its performance. This occurs when the signal becomes distorted beyond specified limits, usually as a result of dispersion.
Dispersion occurs when a signal travels through a medium and is spread out spatially and/or temporally. In fiber optics, it is caused by the difference in the speed of light in the core and cladding of the cable. As the signal travels, the different components of the light travel at different speeds, resulting in the signal becoming spread out over time. This can cause the signal to become distorted, leading to errors in the received data.
To avoid bandwidth-limited operation, fiber optic cables must be designed to minimize the effects of dispersion. This is done by using materials with a small difference in the refractive index between the core and cladding, as well as using cables with a large core diameter. Additionally, dispersion can be reduced by using optical amplifiers and dispersion compensation devices.
To ensure that a fiber optic link is not bandwidth-limited, it is important to ensure that the cable is designed and installed properly. This includes using cables with the correct specifications, using the right type of connector, and paying attention to things such as temperature, humidity, and crosstalk. If the fiber optic link is not designed and installed properly, the signal can become distorted, leading to bandwidth-limited operation.