Optical fiber is well-known for its ability to carry information at high speeds over long distances. Twenty years after the first transatlantic fiber optic cable was laid, these strands of ultrapure glass continue to offer unrivaled bandwidths. They have evolved a long way from the first low-loss fiber demonstrated in the late 1960s.
Less often thought of are a multitude of other applications. Fiber optic technologies offer unique features that can be exploited in a variety of ways, such as carrying high optical powers in flexible lightguides for welding stations, transferring images in endoscopes, distributed sensing along pipelines, and for low-weight and high-transmission bandwidth in avionics.