Green communications coming to a computer near you

26 November 2007

Cheaper, more proven materials that already exist will allow unlimited bandwidth within the next five years, according to Dr David Moss, from the University's School of Physics.

An international team of researchers from Australia, Canada and the United States led by Dr. Moss have developed a photonic chip capable of low power optical switching. This is based on an improved version of the glass in optical fibre cables that have been the material of choice for telecommunication companies for over 40 years.

"We know that Photonic Integrated Circuits, or PICs, have the potential to revolutionise our world in increasing the speed of the Internet. We've now gone one step further by developing an environmentally friendly all-optical PIC with low energy consumption," says Dr Moss who works with the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Device Optical Systems (CUDOS).

The key factor behind this discovery is that the material used in the PIC is well proven and available. "In fact, it is a high refractive index version of the glass in typical optical fibre, which combined with our novel device design means that operations can be performed with over a million times less power than previously done in glass circuits.

This is a critical breakthrough as the exorbitant energy demands currently placed on electronic information routers are estimated to reach crisis point by 2013. With bandwidth demand growing rapidly the electronic energy used in the ageing routers cannot support the need for instantaneous delivery of information as demanded by mobile phone and Internet users.

Dr Moss' paper Low-power continuous-wave nonlinear optics in doped silica glass integrated waveguide structures was published on Nature Photonics's website on 23 November.

Contact: Mandy Sacher

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