fibres are tiny glass tubes which operate on the principle
that light reflects off a medium of different refractive
index (eg. glass) when shone on to it at a particular
angle (known as the critical angle).
property enables photons of light from a laser or LED
to effectively travel along the tube, eventually coming
out the other end.
A handful of fibres
(Image courtesy of www.exel.co.uk)
the extremely fast speed of light, fibre optics technology
offers unbelievable data transfer rates for communication
applications. Optical fibres can also be used as "cameras"
to see around corners or through tight spaces (as seen
Using a bunch
of very readily available optical fibres, you can easily
make a light pipe which can demonstrate the "bending"
of light within the fibres, and even your own fibre
to grab a good bunch of poor quality fibre at a discount
price by ripping out the fibres from decorative lamps
actually think those coloured fibre optics in the photo
above are fake... they let in light both from around
the outside of the tube and the tube ends. Though, given
that the lamps were less than $1 each, I can't really
the fibre optic light pipe/camera. By cutting a bunch
of about 80 fibre optics to the same length, I aligned
them in a rectangular grid array as best I could. The
ends were then heated with a flame to fuse them together
and establish a smooth surface.
down the end of the light pipe. You can see the individual
optical fibres more clearly here.
of fibres was individually aligned and heated, and then
these columns were stacked together to form the pipe.
As you can
see, its a very messy job, and I could not be bothered
taking the time to make it nice and pretty. I got alot
of these ideas from Andrew at www.sci-spot.com,
so make sure you give that site a visit if you plan
on making one of these things.
this similar looking photo, the other end of the light
pipe is being directed at a desk lamp. The result is
optical fibres I have are quite large in diameter, which
means each "pixel" of the light pipe is large,
corresponding to a lower quality image. Had I used more
expensive optical fibres, this surely would look much
a nice demonstration of the light pipe in action. My
first finger and thumb and holding the other end of
the light pipe directed at a desk lamp., with my finger
covering up half of it. The resultant image is a (pixelised)
replica of my finger and light from the lamp.
is obviously jagged due to the rather large "pixels".
You can also use it as a camera (with pretty bad resolution,
obviously), but it requires a lens on the other side.
I've tried this, but the image quality is too poor to
reliably distinguish any object.
lets do something fun, seeing as Christmas is just around
the corner. Here (right) are three bunches of optical
fibres, super glued onto a piece of acrylic.
case you're wondering how the hell they actually managed
to stick on, well I melted the ends of the fibres together
first before mounting, to make a smooth surface and
join them together simultaneously.
a light source underneath the acrylic, and apply power.
Hey presto! A fibre optic lamp of your own, except better
because you can make it as big as you want. I'd guess
mine has at least a few thousand fibres in it.
I used a
20W halogen lamp powered by a 12V SLA battery (visible
on the right).
it is during the night. Looks like some strange coral
or other weird sea creature.
is the ultimate five minute job, just take a closer
look at that base...(actually an old container for glucosamine
tablets), and the lid...(a piece of flat black cardboard
which was simply folded instead of being cut to size),
and the masking tape used to "secure" the
that's cheap, high-tech decoration.
also makes for some glorious photography opportunities.
This is a birds eye view of the lamp.
still have a few thousand more optical fibres which
are awaiting their fate in a (possible) future gadget
to build. I'm currently out of ideas, so if you have
one... then EMAIL me!