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Thin transparent fibres of glass or plastic that transmit light through their length by internal reflections, used for transmitting data, voice, and images. Fibre-optic technology has virtually replaced copper wire in long-distance telephone lines and is used to link computers in local area networks, with digitized light pulses replacing the electric current formerly used for the signal. Telecommunication using fibre optics is usually conducted with infrared light. Fibre optics uses light in the visible wavelengths to transmit images directly, in various technical devices such as those developed for endoscopy.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on fibre optics, visit Britannica.com.