Chromatic dispersion is a phenomenon that is an important factor in fiber optic communications. It is the result of the different colors, or wavelengths, in a light beam arriving at their destination at slightly different times. The result is a spreading, or dispersion, of the on-off light pulses that convey digital information. Special care must be taken to compensate for this dispersion so that the optical fiber delivers its maximum capacity. Sir Isaac Newton observed this phenomenon when he passed sunlight through a prism and saw it diverge into a spectrum of different colors.
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In an optical medium, such as fiber, there are three types of dispersion, chromatic, modal, and material. Chromatic dispersion results from the spectral width of the emitter. The spectral width determines the number of different wavelengths that are emitted from the LED or laser. The smaller the spectral width, the fewer the number of wavelengths that are emitted. Because longer wavelengths travel faster than shorter wavelengths higher frequencies these longer wavelengths will arrive at the end of the fiber ahead of the shorter ones, spreading out the signal.
Fiber Dispersion and Optical Dispersion – An Overview
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