ECE 4134 Fiber Optics and Applications | ECE | Virginia Tech

Undergraduate PROGRAMS

Course Information


Theory of optical fiber waveguide propagation and design applications in communication and sensing systems.

Why take this course?

The course introduces students to the basic building blocks of optical fiber technology. These include the types and properties of fibers, optical sources and detectors, and fiber components and devices. These building blocks are introduced in the context of long distance fiber optical transmission systems which push the technology to its limits. The material is necessary for advanced study of optical communications and the skills acquired in this course are fundamental for employment in the rapidly growing fiber optics industry. Employment is widely available to students completing this course in manufacture and deployment of optical transmission systems, optical networks, fiber sensors, and fiber optical components and devices.

Technical Elective


C- or better in 3106

Knowledge of electromagnetic field propagation, reflection, refraction, and interaction with materials from 3106 is essential at the beginning of this course.

Major Measurable Learning Objectives

  • Carry out modal analysis of step-index optical fibers
  • Evaluate material, modal, and waveguide dispersion of optical fibers and estimate their information carrying capacity
  • Design and analyze optical fibers and fiber components and devices
  • Describe the fundamental properties of semiconductor light sources, including laser diode and light-emitting diode (LED)
  • Describe the principles of operation and noise mechanisms of photodetectors, including p-i-n and avalanche photodiodes
  • Utilize the basic fiber building blocks in the development and operation of optical fiber systems

Course Topics


Percentage of Course

Digital data links 4%
Ray theory 5%
Mode theory 10%
Refractive index profiles 3%
Signal degradation mechanisms 10%
Optical fiber sources 10%
Detectors and receivers 10%
Coupling and connecting 4%
Long distance systems 11%
Local area networks 2%
Fiber sensors 7%
Polarization 3%
Fiber Components and Devices 7%
Fiber Amplifiers 7%
Fiber Nonlinearities 7%