The Basics of Fiber Patch Cords


Fiber optic patch cords are electrical cables with connectors on each end. Many people are not familiar with them, but chances are you’ve come across them in the past. Their cabling is coaxial but can also be made of single conductor wires, shielded or unshielded CAT5/5e/6/6A, or fiber-optic wires. Patch cords are used in various industrial applications based on the type and their overall bandwidth. We expound on the basics of fiber patch cords down below.

Basics of Fiber Patch Cords

Optic patch cords are famous worldwide due to transferring high-speed data using rapid light pulses over large areas. We look at their construction, features, uses, and modes

a. Constriction of Patch Cords

Patch cords consist of three concentric components, i.e., the core, cladding, and outer coating. The center is the inner-most layer made mainly of glass or plastic, and the light goes through it during transmission. The cladding is composed of similar materials, but its refraction index is usually lower than the core. The index difference causes complete internal reflection causing light to be transferred through the fiber without escaping through the walls. The coating is made up of plastic layers to protect the fiber strands from external factors such as extreme weather conditions. Some have metallic sheaths for more protection.

b. Features of Fiber Patch Cords

These cables appear shorter than all other networking cables since they are designed to ‘patch’ devices together. The different types of optic cable vary in size and length; hence some are longer than others. They range from a few inches to about 2 feet long. The long ones are thicker and have a shield around them to protect them from electromagnetic interference.

Unlike pigtails with bare wires exposed on one end, patch cables have connectors attached to electronic devices. The connection is not permanent and can be unplugged at any time. They come in almost every color, which is excellent since you can have them match other cables to avoid too many clashing colors.

c. What are Patch Cords Used For?

The common ways a patch cable is used is to carry signals from one device to another, such as telephone, cable TV, audio, video, and digital signals for networked and non-networked applications. They are also used for optical communication, an essential part of non-intrusive surgery methods like endoscopy.

Their application in decorative lighting has developed over the years due to how economical and attractive they are. Sensing and power delivery are also some of their uses. Sensing involves delivering light to a detector from the source to acquire spectral information, temperature, and pressure. Patch cords offer very high power levels for tasks like welding, drilling, and laser cutting.

d. Modes

These refer to the finite number of paths within the optical fiber, strengthening transmission by producing constructive phase shifts. They occur at different angles to the fiber axis and travel varying lengths through it from the input to output. The light’s wavelength, diameter, and the refraction index of the fiber core determine the number of modes produced in one optical cable.


Fiber optic patch cords have been used in various applications such as telecommunication, medical, and photonics. Many research institutes are attracted to them due to their performance, higher bandwidth, high speed and data-carrying capacity, and low losses. They prove to be more efficient and effective than other cables.


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