Difference Between Single Mode and Multimode Fiber

Fibre optics, also known as optical fibre, is an innovation that sends data as light pulses across a glass or plastic fibre. The number of glass fibres in a fibre optic cable can tend to fluctuate from hundreds to thousands.


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Single-mode fibre and multimode fibre are just two types of optical fibre.

Key Takeaways

  1. Single-mode fiber is fiber optic cable that allows only one mode of light to propagate.
  2. Multimode fiber is fiber optic cable that allows multiple light modes to propagate.
  3. Single-mode fiber has higher bandwidth and longer transmission distances, while multimode fiber is less expensive and suitable for shorter distances.

Single-mode Fiber vs Multimode Fiber

Single-mode fibre has a smaller core diameter (typically 8-10 microns) than multimode fibre, allowing only one mode of light to travel through it. Multimode fibre has a larger core diameter (typically 50 or 62.5 microns) and allows for multiple modes of light to travel through it.

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Single-mode fibre is a type of optical fibre that is used for transmitting over large distances. It is basically a single-mode fibre which is used to transmit a single ray of light or a single mode.

It has only one transmission mode. It is sometimes called as mono-mode optical fibre.

Multimode fibre is another type of optical fibre used for transmitting numerous rays of light or modes. These rays can be transmitted at different angles and at much shorter distances.

It is composed of glass fibres. Multimode fibre is also more commonly known as multimode optical fibre.

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison
Single Mode FiberMultimode Fiber
DiameterThe central diameter of a single mode fiber is approximately about 8-10 micrometers in length.The central diameter of a multimode fiber is approximately about 50-62.5 micrometers in length.
Optical SourceThe optical source of a single mode fiber is a laser because it requires a source of light with a thin spectral size.The optical source of a multimode fiber is a LED because it requires a huge, central diameter which eliminates the need for a focused beam.
AttenuationBecause a single mode fiber transmits a single ray of light, the result is in less attenuation.Because a multimode fiber transmits numerous rays of light, the result is in more attenuation.
CostSingle mode optical fibers are less expensive, but the instruments needed with it make it a bit costly sometimes.Multimode optical fibers are much more expensive, but the instruments needed with it do not add more cost as in other optical fibers.
BandwidthSingle-mode fiber has a greater bandwidth of about 400 MHz/km.Multimode fiber has a much lesser brandwidth of about 50-60 MHz/km.

What Is Single Mode Fiber?

A single-mode optical fibre is a kind of optical fibre that enables only one ray of light to propagate along with it. The diameter of the centre to the enclosure is 9 to 125 micrometres in this case.

It is also referred to as mono-mode optical fibre or uni-mode optical fibre. All of the benefits connected with single-mode optical fibre make it appropriate for usage with arising optical innovations.

Because the diameter of the centre is so tiny, only a single light beam passes via the same.  A single optical fibre is recognized to have three basic components: the core, the cladding, and the coating or the buffer.

The centre, or vital part, is made up of only one fibre strand. The beam radiated by the origin passes via this segment. The centre’s minuscule diameter necessitates utilising a sharply focused beam of light as its origin.

As a result, it employs a LASER as its optical point of origin. Single-mode optical fibre has low waveform deformation because it transmits only a solitary light ray.

As a result, modal distribution is not observed, allowing for long-distance frequency transfer with a noticeably increased flow pace. As a consequence, the bandwidth is increased, which is an additional benefit of single-mode optical fibre.

single mode fiber

What Is Multimode Fiber?

Multimode optical fibre is also another form of digital fibre. Numerous rays of light perpetuate through a multimode optical fibre simultaneously, but each tends to reflect at a different slant than the others during transfer.

In the scenario of multimode optical fibre, the centre-to-cladding diameter ranges from 50-62.5 to 125 micrometres. Due to their reliability and performance, multimode fibres are often the first preference whenever a link within a building is considered necessary.

The costs might be a bit expensive, but in the end, it is worth it for the users. In this scenario, the diameter of the centre point is enormous, enabling innumerable light waves to cross through it and thereby utilising LED as its optical source.

There are too many possibilities for modes to communicate with one another since many modes intensify through the centre point. As a consequence, intermodal transmission can occur in multimode fibres.

Because long-distance transfer increases the possibility of scattering within the fibre, these are most often used in applications requiring small distances.

Although multimode fibre is a costly optical fibre, the transfer hardware affiliated with it is less pricey, thus making it a suitable choice for most users.

multimode fiber scaled

Main Differences Between Single Mode and Multimode Fiber

  1. The central diameter of a single-mode optical fibre is around 8 to 10 micrometres, but the central diameter of a multimode optical fibre is approximately 50 to 62.5 micrometres.
  2. Because single-mode optical fibres have tiny diameters, they are more difficult to handle and couple than multimode optical fibres.
  3. In a single-mode optical fibre, the transmission of a single light beam results in reduced attenuation. However, attenuation in multimode optical fibre is greater due to many bounces of light rays.
  4. Single-mode optical fibres are less costly than multimode optical fibres, yet, the equipment connected with single-mode optical fibres are more pricey than multimode optical fibres.
  5. Because single-mode optical fibre has lower losses than multimode optical fibre, it can transport a specific signal across a greater range. When opposed to multimode fibre, the transfer range of single-mode fibre is roughly 50 times larger.
Difference Between Single Mode and Multimode Fiber
  1. https://www.osapublishing.org/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-13-6-2019
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/4811119/
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