Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Major Breakthrough for Hollow-Core Fibre
Using super high-speed Internet could become noticeably faster if recent research being conducted at the University of Southampton in England translates into real-life application. Researchers recently announced that they have found a way to increase data speeds over optical fibre cables while minimising bandwidth and data loss issues.
The standard for today's fibre optic cables, which are now the core of the worldwide Internet, are solid cables utilising silica glass fibres. These cables are capable of moving light at 69% of the speed it moves in a vacuum. The Southampton researchers have developed a hollow core cable that can achieve speeds of up to 99.7%. The increase of nearly 45% could mean a big difference for today's cloud computing and media on-demand environments.
Optical fibre technology was developed back in the 1970s and almost immediately changed the way we communicate. Without it, one wonders whether the Internet we now know would even be possible. The technology allows electronic data to be transmitted over long distances using pulses of light rather than electrical current. The advantage of this method is that the data moves farther and faster while the cables themselves are unaffected by electromagnetic interference.
Solid silica glass fibres have worked well to the extent that they have revolutionised data communications around the world. Nevertheless, speed is an obvious limitation. By increasing data speeds using hollow cables, the researchers at Southampton have likely made one of the most significant advances the field of fibre optics has seen in quite a while.
That said, hollow fibre cables are not without their own inherent weaknesses. In order to achieve higher speeds in a way that is still workable researchers had to deal with bandwidth, data loss and mode coupling issues. They claim to have found the right balance that addresses these issues while still maintaining the desired higher speeds.
Super-fast data connections with wide bandwidth and low latency are something we've been waiting on for quite a while. The time seems right for these new hollow optical fibre cables on a number of levels. At the enterprise level, today's businesses require more computer systems that are increasingly large and tasked with data heavy functioning.
The financial sector is another area where this new technology will be extremely beneficial. As the world economy shrinks and financial systems become more interconnected, the next generation of supercomputers will need all the power and speed available to allow for an endless stream of financial transactions in real-time.
At the consumer level, faster optical fibre connections will only serve to continue the emerging trend of on-demand data. Right now, there is a limited segment of society using the Internet as a sole source for news, media content, and social interaction. However, it's unlikely to remain limited forever. As more users at the consumer level place even more stress on the current system a new, super-fast hollow-core fibre could be the very thing that saves the day.