New Australian research offers a tantalizing promise–fiber optics that could make Internet speeds 100 times faster. The research relies on fiber optics that imitate the basic structure of life: DNA.
Fiber optics are long, thin and made out of pure glass. They’re put in bunches called optical cables where the fiber optics transmit light pulses through them. The new research, from the Australian RMIT University, says that by twisting that light into a spiral the transmission speed could be increased by orders of magnitude. Currently, light pulses bounce down the glass like light would bounce off a mirror. The twist allowed researchers to create a third dimension for those pulses, one they call “the level of orbital angular momentum.” In physics, that’s called spin.
“It’s like DNA, if you look at the double helix spiral,” says Min Gu, the professor from RMIT University who designed the team that created the breakthrough, quoted in The Guardian. “The more you can use angular momentum the more information you can carry.”
While other fibers have been been able to twist light, they were unwieldy. Gu says that they were “the size of a dining table,” while his is more in line with traditional fiber-optics at the width of a human hair.
“We could produce the first chip that could detect this twisting and display it for mobile application,” he says.
Fiber optic cables run across the globe, thanks to major companies like Google and Microsoft. Gu says that the technology could be available to upgrade Australia’s networks, although the government is still going through internal political decisions about fiber. The government, speaking to The Guardian, also said that Gu’s work would “require widespread acceptance from equipment manufacturers and network operators before they are ready for operational deployment.” There’s also the question of what speeds the devices on either end of such a high-speed fiber could handle, which might very well limit the practical advantages of this new cable technique until other hardware catches up.
Gu appears to be ready for his cables to enter the marketplace.
“We will definitely reduce this hurdle,” he says of his new twisting cables. “We will make this transfer more efficient.”
Source: The Guardian