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Scientists Claim New Map of Spiralling Light to Boost Fibre Optic Broadband Speed

Posted: 26th Aug, 2011 By: MarkJ
higher order poincare sphere modeluk_fibre_optic_broadband_cable.jpg Scientists working at the Institute of Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL), which is part of the City College of New York (CUNY), have discovered a new way of mapping spiralling light that could allow telecommunications operators the ability to harness "untapped data channels" within fibre optic broadband ISP cables.

The IUSL scientists are devoted to promoting research and education in photonic and laser technologies. They believe that this latest breakthrough could increase the bandwidth of existing fibre optic cables, which would help to ease the internet's "ever-growing demand for audio, video and digital media".

The New Model's Inventor, Giovanni Milione (Graduate Student), explains:

"People now can detect (light in) the ground channel, but this gives us a way to detect and measure a higher number of channels. ... Being able to follow polarization and other changes as light travels gives you insight into the material it travels through."

Polarization will be familiar to most people and many of us already own something that makes direct use of it. For example, Sun Glasses sometimes come with specially coated (polarized) lenses that reduce glare, such as when you're looking at the surface of the sea on a sunny morning; without the glasses you'd be squinting.

The ability to understand how polarization can effect a specific direction and orientation of the light's movement and electric field is critical to working with lasers and photonic technology. The problem is that, until now, it hasn't been possible to map the multiple higher channels / more complex light in an optical fibre.

This complex light doesn't have "simple" peaks and troughs, like waves on an ocean, and instead moves and twists like a tornado as it travels through space. The solution to this problem is a globe-shaped Higher Order Poincare Sphere (HOPS) model.

Professor Robert Alfano explains:

"The sphere facilitates understanding, showing phase vortices are on poles and vector beams are on the equator. It organizes the relationship between these vortices of light.

This kind of organization on the higher level Poincar√ɬ© Sphere could clear the path to a number of novel physics and engineering efforts such as quantum computing and optical transitions; could greatly expand the sensitivity of spectroscopy and the complexity of computer cryptography; and might further push the boundaries what can be ‘seen’."

In short the model could be used to make better use of the existing light that travels down a fibre optic cable. The act of actually turning such a model into a product of practical worth will be up to one of the many other teams around the world that are already working to boost fibre optic capacity.
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