Discovery could lead to faster, cheaper optical fibres

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Washington, Jan 18 : Scientists at the University of Bath have discovered a way of speeding up the production of hollow-core optical fibres, a new generation of optical fibres that could lead to faster and more powerful computing and telecommunications technologies as well as reduce overall fabrication cost.

Previous tests have exhibited that the fibre is superior in almost every respect to previous versions of the technology that harboured the development of new technologies that use light instead of electrical circuits to carry information.

"This is a major improvement in the development of hollow-core fibre technology," said Professor Jonathan Knight from the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials in the Department of Physics at the University of Bath.

"In standard optical fibres, light travels in a small cylindrical core of glass running down the fibre length.

"The fact that light has to travel through glass limits them in many ways. For example, the glass can be damaged if there is too much light, he said.

"Also, the glass causes short pulses of light to spread out in a blurring effect that makes them less well defined. This limits its usefulness in telecommunications and other applications.

"Hence, fibres in which light travels in air down a hollow core hold great promise for a next generation of optical fibres with performance enhanced in many ways," he added.

The new method showed that narrowing the wall of glass around the large central hole by just a hundred nanometres (a 10 millionth of a metre) broadens the range of wavelengths, which can be transmitted.

The researchers omitting some of the most difficult steps in the fabrication procedure, reducing the time required to make the fibres from around a week to a single day.

They believe that the fibres could have a significant impact in a range of fields such as laser design and pulsed beam delivery, spectroscopy, biomedical and surgical optics, laser machining, the automotive industry and space science.

"The consequences of being able to use light rather than electrical circuits to carry information will be fundamental," said Knight.

"It will make optical fibres many times more powerful and brings the day when information technology will consist of optical devices rather than less efficient electronic circuits much closer," he added.

The study appears in the journal Optics Express.

ANI

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