Traffic control for a new era of high speed internet
15 February 2009
Professor Ben Eggleton and his team in the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwith Devices for Optical Systems, in the School of Physics, have developed a photonic integrated circuit that can not only increase internet networks speeds, making them 60 times faster, but can act as traffic monitors to keep the speed high and error-free.
The photonic integrated circuit attracted wide media interest in July 2008 when ARC Federation Fellow Professor Ben Eggleton announced the extraordinary speed of the new technology.
Incorporating scratched glass, the photonic integrated circuit uses the 'scratch' as a guide or a switching path for information - like when trains are switched from one track to another. But this switch takes only one picosecond to change tracks, meaning that in one second the switch turns on and off about one million million times. This photonic technology has the capacity to move information at terabit per second speed.
"We realised that, with this chip, we'd effectively unblocked the bottleneck of internet traffic, but without constant monitoring you can't keep that traffic flowing. What we didn't realise at the time was our chip's versatility - it not only allows high rates of data transmission but monitors the integrity of that transmission."
Complicated electronic measuring instruments that can cost up to $1 million dollars are currently used in scientific research.
"Electronics simply cannot match the speed and value of the photonic integrated circuit," says Eggleton, who claims these can be replaced by one elegant photonic chip, which is the size of a thumbnail and uses far less power than electronics making it far more energy efficient.
"Our photonic integrated circuit will cost around $100 and have a life span of about ten years. You just can't beat that in terms of cost and efficiency," says Professor Eggleton.
Professor Eggleton and his research team's paper, Photonic-chip-based radio-frequency spectrum analyser with terahertz bandwith, was published in Nature Photonics on 15 February 2009.
Professor Ben Eggleton is the Director, Centre for Ultrahigh bandwith Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) and the new Institute of Photonic and Optical Science (IPOS) due to be launched on 23 April 2009 by Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Science. CUDOS and IPOS are both based within the School of Physics, at the University of Sydney.
Read more about the photonic integrated circuit announcement in July 2008 at: www.usyd.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=2411
Contact: Katynna Gill
Phone: 02 9351 6997