Feeds

Want faster fibre? Get rid of the glass

Hollow fibre propagates optics near speed of light

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

One of the most irritating expressions people can use, “broadband at the speed of light”, is a little closer to coming true thanks to researchers from the University of Southampton, who have demonstrated air-filled fibres with propagation happening at 99.7 percent of c.

In a conventional fibre, the glass acts as a waveguide: the core and its cladding have different refractive indices, which means the optical signal follows the path you want. In the solid core, light can only propagate at roughly 70 percent of the speed of light in a vacuum.

Through air, light moves more quickly, so there's been a long-running thread in research to do just that: propagate the light through air, and use the fibre to confine it – rather like metal waveguides are used to guide microwave-frequency signals.

This has been known for ages, and a search turns up years of research into air waveguides for optical signals. What the University of Southampton researchers are claiming (abstract) in Nature Photonics is to have solved the problems of loss and coupling that the air solution encounters.

By getting propagation speed up to 99.7 percent from 70 percent of light-speed, the best-case trip from Australia to the US would be cut from about 43 milliseconds to about 30 milliseconds (ignoring router hops and regeneration). In the world of long-distance communications, the lower latency would be beloved of gamers, and also in the world of high-speed financial trading.

The researchers also note that success with air-filled fibre would be of benefit “inside the box” – for example, to help ship data between elements in supercomputers (since electricity can only limp through copper at about two-thirds light-speed).

They claim to have achieved 3.5 dB per kilometre loss, and the 160nm wide channel was enough to carry were able to send 37 WDM channels at 40 Gbps each. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE accused of silencing customer gripes on social media pages
Hello. HELLO. Can EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE HEAR ME?!
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?