Photonic switching beckons 100x Internet speeds

Terabit capacity photonic technology faster than electric circuits

Researchers at the University of Sydney have developed technology that could boost the throughput of existing networks by 100-fold without costing the consumer any more, and its all thanks to a scratch on a piece of glass.

After four years of development, University of Sydney scientists say the Internet is set to become on average 60 times faster than existing networks.

According to the Centre for Ultra-high bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) at the University's School of Physics, the scratch will mean almost instantaneous, error-free and unlimited access to the Internet anywhere in the world.

CUDOS director, professor Ben Eggleton, said the discovery is a critical building block and a fundamental advance on what is already out there.

Eggleton said that up until now information has been moving at a slow rate, but optical fibres have a huge capacity to deliver more.

"The scratched glass we've developed is actually a photonic integrated circuit," Eggleton said.

"This circuit uses the 'scratch' as a guide or a switching path for information - like when trains are switched from one track to another - except this switch takes only one picosecond to change tracks. This means that in one second the switch is turning on and off about one trillion times. We are talking about photonic technology that has terabit per second capacity."

An initial demonstration proved it possible to achieve speeds 60 times faster than existing local networks.

"We [now] use electronics for switching and that has been okay, but as we move toward a more tech-savvy future there is a demand for instant Web gratification," Eggleton said. "Photonic technology delivers what's needed and, more importantly, what's wanted."

The CUDOS research is based on collaboration between teams at the University of Sydney, the Australian National University, and the Technical University of Denmark.

Research is also supported with Australian Research Council funding.

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