Fiber-optic books and services from Jeff Hecht

I have been involved with fiber-optic communications since the 1970s, and have watched the growth of the technology and the market from a young technology to the backbone of the global telecommunications network. Trained in electronic engineering at Caltech, I have drawn on that education and my years of experience to develop an understanding of fiber optics, lasers and communications that helps me explain and analyze the technology. I offer a range of services in the field of fiber optics.

Please note that I am not associated with the Chinese company Fiberhome, which now owns the site


My decades of experience in fiber optics give me a head start in knowing where to go to find people and information you need. I don't design systems, but I do have a broad understanding of fiber-optic hardware, systems and applications. I have an archive of publications that can help trace the history of concepts and ideas, such as patent issues. If you want to learn more about the field and where it's going, I will be glad to discuss how I can help you. Please e-mail me at [my first name][AT]

Short Courses on Fiber Optics

I have taught short courses based on Understanding Fiber Optics at selected industry conferences, and am available for on-site courses in the northeastern US. SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering, recorded a pair of my five-hour courses in 2000 which they offer on video. They obviously are rather outdated, but do illustrate my course approach.

Writing on Fiber Optics and Telecommunications

I have written about fiber optics and their applications in telecommunications for a wide range of magazines, including Technology Review, Laser Focus World, Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, Optics & Photonics News, Upside, and Omni, where in 1982 I was the first person to write for a general audience about the potential for fiber optics to bring what we now call broadband services to homes.


Understanding Fiber Optics, 5th edition

PDF electronic copies of the latest (2006) edition are now available from for $9.95. I have run into technical difficulties in making a print edition available. For details please see my Understanding Fiber Optics page. First published in 1987, Understanding Fiber Optics is now in its fifth edition, and has sold over 100,000 copies. Widely used as an introductory textbook, for corporate training, and as a self-study guide, it is written to give the reader an intuitive understanding of fiber-optic technology and its applications, particularly in communications. It opens with three chapters that introduce the reader to fiber optics as a whole, the optical technology behind fiber optics, and the field of telecommunications. Following chapters explain optical fibers and their properties, specialty fibers, cables, light sources, transmitters, receivers, and other important components. Two chapters cover measurements, testing, and troubleshooting. A series of chapters covers system concepts and standards, system design, and telecommunication systems ranging from the global telecommunications network to your local phone network. The final two chapters cover fiber-optic sensors and imaging bundles. Throughout, I concentrate on explaining concepts rather than deriving equations, and include a glossary and an appendix of helpful equations and constants.

Check the table of contents for more details


City of Light: The Story of Fiber Optics (Oxford, 1999, 2004)

City of Light: The Story of Fiber Optics

History can be fascinating and educational. Reading the history of fiber optics won't bring a horde of venture capitalists to your door bearing money, but you will learn what made the technology so successful -- as well as reading some fun stories. City of Light, part of the Sloan Technology Series, was first published in 1999 by Oxford University Press. It tells how the technology developed from early demonstrations of light guiding in flowing jets of water, through instruments that allow physicians to look inside the stomach without surgery, to the communication fibers that provide the backbone of today's global telecommunication network. There are tales of bright ideas, hard work, disappointment, and triumph. The cast ranges from the college undergraduate who made a key breakthrough to eminent professors of physics and independent-minded entrepreneurs. The trade paperback edition published in 2004 includes a new epilogue on the fiber-optic boom, the bubble, and the bust, bringing the story up to the present day.

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