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December 20, 2012

Novel Dynamic Dual-Core Optical Fiber Improves Data Transmission



By Carolyn J Dawson
TMCnet Contributor



A group of researchers recently unveiled a novel, dual-core optical fiber, capable of carrying movies, messages and music at a very fast speed – similar to optical fibers. Details of the latest nanomechanical fibers are available in the open-access journal Optics Express from Optical Society (OSA).

In optical fibers, the very thin strands of perfect glass are required to link up to slow signal switches, routers and buffers for sending data. In contrast, the latest technology can send data by applying only a very small quantity of mechanical pressure.

Data processing will be considerably improved with these latest nanomechanical fibers. These fibers comprise light-carrying cores suspended and separated at a maximum distance of 1 micrometer from each other.

The latest fibers can be used as sensors in electronic devices as well.

In a statement, Wei H. Loh, Deputy Director, EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Photonics and Researcher, Optoelectronics Research Centre said, “Nanomechanical optical fibers do not just transmit light like previous optical fibers. Their internal core structure is designed to be dynamic and capable of precise mechanical motion. This mechanical motion, created by applying a tiny bit of pressure, can harness some of the fundamental properties of light to give the fiber new functions and capabilities.”

Optically coupled fibers with two cores have been manufactured as part of this pioneering technology. Researchers were able to alter the strength of the light in reaction to this coupling effect by changing the position of one of the cores by a few nanometers.

The light therefore instantaneously jumps from one fiber to the other in the event of a strong coupling effect.

In response to very little pressure, the supple suspension system of the fiber brings the two cores either closer together or further apart. This helps control the time and manner of the signals as they hop from one core to the other, replicating the working of an optical switch inside the real fiber.

Loh said, “With our nanomechanical fiber structure, we can control the propagation time of light through the fiber by moving the two cores closer together, thereby delaying, or buffering, the data as light.”

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Edited by Braden Becker
 
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