Benefits of Fiber Optic Attenuators

The list of antonyms for ‘amplify’ includes words like ‘decrease’, ‘weaken’, ‘diminish’, ‘reduce’, etc. So, if you were looking for something to do the opposite of fibre optic amplify a signal, you might be tempted to look for something along the lines of a ‘diminisher’ or ‘anti-amplifier’— and if you asked for help looking for those things, you’d probably get some weird looks thrown your way. Fortunately, that’s not the case because what you’re looking for is actually called an ‘Attenuator’.

Attenuators are the effective opposite of amplifiers; they reduce the power connector of a signal without appreciably distorting the waveform and provides loss instead of gain. For optical signals, there’s the fiber optic attenuator, useful for when an optical signal is too strong to work with things like multi-wavelength systems or optical receivers with certain input specifications. Fiber optic attenuators are also common in fire optic communications applications where they test power level margins by temporarily adding a calibrated amount of signal loss, or by being installed permanently to properly match transmitter and receiver levels.

Attenuators interconnect typically all have male and female ends, but double-female end attenuators are also available. There are two basic types of fiber optic attenuators: fixed and variable. Within the category of fixed attenuators, there are built-out or in-line patch cord styles. And within the category of built-out cord styles, there are air gap attenuators and doped fiber attenuators.
Air gap attenuators create a loss of optical strength with the help of two fibers that are separated by air to yield the loss. They can be fixed or variable, which makes them a slightly more versatile option. However, they’re incredibly susceptible to dust contamination, changes to temperature, and moisture; they also tend to create second order distortions that reduce performance.

On the other hand, doped fiber attenuators create a loss of optical strength with the help of a small fiber piece along with metal ion doping to provide precise attenuation and interfacing in between male and female connections. Doped fiber attenuators are better than air gap attenuators in that they are not susceptible to dirt, changes in temperature, or moisture, and they are able to provide solid and stable performance over wide wavelength variations and band passes, but they are slightly more expensive as a result. Either way, you have options to consider and choose from, other than ‘anti-amplifier’.

At Just Connectors, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the fiber optic attenuators and interconnectors you need, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


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