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New technology allows a peek at the future of fiber-optic cables

By Max Burkhalter
July 30, 2014

Electrical signals tend to fade over long distances, but fiber-optic installations overcome this limitation by mirroring signals across the length of the cable. Researches have maximized the amount of information that can pass through a fiber-optic cable by encoding additional information in electrical signals on multiple varying frequencies. Fiber-optic technology still has limitations, but modern science is hard at work to take these cables to the next level.

The American Physical Society reports a breakthrough by researchers at Aston University in the United Kingdom. The research team has devised a method of forming signals sent through fiber-optic cables that prevent said signals from interfering with one another. This discovery may help to increase the total information that can be passed through the cable at once and further enhance the capabilities of fiber-optic installations to transfer large amounts of data.

Another scientific discovery may eliminate the need for a physical cable. According to the Smithsonian Institute, scientists at the University of Maryland have designed a fiber-optic cable made of air. The new method, dubbed the air waveguide, uses a loop of lasers to superheat the surrounding air and increase the air pressure within the loop. The difference in air pressure guides electrical signals down the laser loop as effectively as a physical cable.

The technology is too new to be used for home or business installations. However, the air waveguide now makes it possible to send a large stream of data to locations that fiber-optic cables cannot reach. Another possible application for the technology is on other planets. The atmospheric pressure that facilitates the air waveguide is non-existence in deep space but the system could be used on other planets with similar atmospheres. This technology could help expand the capabilities of probes and surface rovers; many of these robots are already equipped with laser emitters.

Advances in fiber-optic technology are likely to inspire a new push for installation upgrades. Thankfully companies currently using old technology will be able to keep pace with the help of media converters. Even companies still utilizing copper-based equipment can maximize their data transfers through a media converter installation.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160 km.


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