We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Optical Coupling?

By G.W. Poulos
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Optical coupling is a method of interconnecting two devices to transfer an optical signal using light waves in the field of optoelectronics. In practice, an optical coupling can be a simple connection between two optical cables using a coupling device, or it can be a complex system that links two separate actions through optical devices to make them dependent on, or reactive to, one another. In a broader sense, it can refer to accomplishing any connection using light waves between two or more devices. For example, when a television’s remote control sends an infrared signal to the infrared receiver in the television set, the television and the remote are momentarily optically coupled.

When configuring optical-based electronic systems, it is often necessary to connect two or more fiber optic cables together. This is accomplished by using a device called an optical coupler. Optical couplers are passive devices that allow light to travel from one fiber optic cable to another while at the same time keeping them from coming into direct contact with each other. This isolation allows optical couplers to connect small fiber optic cables to large cables, large cables to small cables, or even one cable to many cables.

In fiber optic computer networks, optical coupling is a key concept. Optical couplers can accept signals transmitted as light waves from one computer on one fiber optic cable and branch it to many computers through many cables, thus distributing the information to an entire network. Likewise, they can collect data from many different source cables and combine them into a single fiber optic cable, which may be connected to the network’s server or other components such as printers or data back-up devices.

Different types of optical couplers exist to provide optical coupling for many special tasks. For example, the United States federal government monitors the Internet using a special optical coupler based on a mirrored prism design. This coupler receives information from a point of access to the Internet over a fiber optic cable in the form of light waves and then, using a prism, splits the light waves into two copies of the original. One copy of the information continues to its destination on the Internet with no more interference or delay than would exist by passing it through a simple optical coupler used to connect two fiber optic cables. The other copy of the information is transmitted to a government facility for analysis.

Many common electronic devices make use of internal closed optical coupling systems. Some power transistors function by receiving an electronic signal, converting it to light, and directing that light toward an internal photo-sensor. Once the sensor detects the light source, the transistor switches on and begins to conduct power. By using light to switch the transistor in response to electronic signals, instead of using the electrical signals directly, the transistor can react to inputs at much faster speeds. Additionally, because the input signal and output signal are isolated from one another by the internal optical coupler, such transistors can send or transfer signals that are very different from those that they receive.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.