Difference Between Single Mode and Multimode Fiber

milti-mode/single mode fiber
In transmission mode, transmission distance, coat color, scene application and other aspects there are great differences between single-mode fiber and multi-mode fiber .Although in the current single-mode fiber is the mainstream application of optical fiber transmission, but in the long run, multi-core multi-mode fiber, multi-core fiber, multi-mode fiber is the development trend of optical fiber communication

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Fiber optic technology has become an integral part of modern communication systems. The two primary types of fiber optics are single-mode and multimode fibers. This article will explore and compare the differences between these two types of fibers.

Single Mode Fiber (SMF): Characteristics and Benefits

Single Mode Fiber (SMF) is designed to transmit a single light path or mode. Here’s what sets it apart:

Core Diameter and Transmission

The core of SMF is thin (approximately 10 μm) with a step-like refractive index distribution. This allows for only one mode of light to pass through at a time, which reduces the chance of signal loss and extends the transmission distance.

Bandwidth and Dispersion

SMF has no multimode dispersion, resulting in a wider transmission bandwidth than multimode fibers. Additionally, the combination of SMF’s material dispersion and structural dispersion creates a zero dispersion characteristic, further broadening the transmission bandwidth.


Because of these characteristics, SMF is ideal for long-distance, high-capacity fiber optic communication systems, fiber optic local area networks (LANs), and various fiber optic sensors.

Multimode Fiber (MMF): Characteristics and Benefits

Multimode Fiber (MMF), on the other hand, is designed to carry multiple light paths or modes simultaneously. Here’s how it differs:

Core Diameter and Transmission

MMF has a larger core diameter (50 μm), allowing it to carry multiple light modes simultaneously. However, this can lead to mode dispersion, where signals running at different speeds cause delays and a broadening of optical pulses over long distances.


Because of mode dispersion, MMF’s transmission bandwidth is typically narrower compared to SMF.


Due to these characteristics, MMF is more suitable for shorter distance transmissions, making it ideal for small-capacity fiber optic communications and local data applications.

Future Trends

While SMF is currently the mainstream choice for fiber optic transmission, the future may see a shift. As global network traffic increases, the capacity of common single-core SMF might become limited. To address this, space division multiplexing technology and the development of multi-core fiber, multimode fiber, or multi-core multimode fiber represent the inevitable future trends in optical communication transmission.

Stay updated with FIBCONET to learn more about the advances and trends in fiber optic technology.

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