Fiber optic adapter is a small but critical, part of hardware in the fiber optic cabling system. Available for more than a decade, the fiber optic adapter has been a relatively stable device with no really revolutionary breakthrough in its technology, and its importance is often overshadowed by connectors, but product manufacturers continue to stress the significant role that these devices play in overall interconnection performance.
Fiber optic adapter is often used to join two terminated fiber optic cable or pigtails together, or to form a fiber optic jack on a wall plate or panel for patching. Like the copper cable adapter, it creates a permanent mating point somewhere for users to plug into as needed. Fiber optic adapter is also called as fiber coupler, it allows fiber optic patch cables to be attached to each other singly or in a large network, which permits many devices to communicate at once.
Note: fiber optic adapter and fiber optic coupler shape a little differently—if the two fiber assemblies to be connected have different style connectors, then we always call adapter; on the contrast, the two patch cables have the same style connectors, we call adapter. This can be clearly distinguished in the following image.
Unlike a copper connection that two copper conductors can be joined directly by a solder or by connectors that have been crimped or soldered to the wires, the key to a fiber connection is the precise alignment of each fiber core. This alignment is achieved by two precision components: the ferrule within each connector and the alignment sleeve within each adapter as shown below. The alignment sleeve is the critical component in an interconnection, which is aimed to bring together the ferrules of the two connectors being mated within the adapter’s sleeve and at its approximate midpoint. The performance of the adapter, defined as how well it aligns two connector ferrules, is determined by the amount of spring force in, and the tolerance of, the split sleeve.
According to different shapes and structures, fiber optic adapters can be classified in several types, such as bare fiber optic adapter, mating sleeves and hybrid fiber optic adapters. The following text will introduce them respectively.
Bare Fiber Optic Adapter—Bare fiber optic adapter is structured with optical fibers on one side and the adapter on the other side, which is used to link the bare optical fiber cable to fiber optic equipment. The adapter side is a connector that can plug into the devices and enables a quick and easy termination for the optical fiber, making it widely used for emergency situation for fast and temporary fiber optic or urgent connection. According to the connector style on the fiber patch cable, there are LC, SC, FC bare fiber adapters available on the market as shown below.
Mating Sleeve—Mating sleeve means the fiber optic adapter is used to connect the same type of fiber optic connectors as shown in the image below. Bare fiber type and plug-in type are available for the mating sleeve. The LC, SC, FC fiber optic adapter are the common mating sleeve types that we often see in networking applications. LC adapter greatly increases the density of fiber optic connector, SC adapter enables a high precision alignment with a low insertion, return loss and back reflection, and FC adapter is easy to operate but sensitive to dust.
Hybrid Fiber Optic Adapter—Unlike mating sleeve, hybrid fiber optic adapter provides interconnections between two different fiber connector types as shown below. It includes male-female and female-female hybrid fiber adapter. Female-to-female hybrid adapter is with two different ends, which is bulk type hybrid fiber adapter, such as FC female at one end and ST female at the other end. Male-to-female hybrid adapter is built out type with a connector plug end and an adapter socket end. Hybrid fiber adapter is often with compact size and widely used for network environments, integrating different configurations and networks.
Don’t look down upon any components in telecommunication applications, since any small devices play an important role in connection, and improving work efficiency, like fiber optic adapter that we have mentioned above. Choosing the right fiber adapter type, you have to check the fiber optic patch cable you need to connect.