Applied Physics

Raising Online Speed Limits

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Science  13 Mar 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5920, pp. 1406-1407
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5920.1406d

The appetite for faster and faster Internet connections with greater and greater information-transfer capacity continues unabated. With the likes of high-definition television, music and video streaming, and social networks all contributing to a 60% annual growth in Internet traffic, the increasing demand for information capacity is putting strain on present information-handling capabilities. In order to avoid a worldwide-wait scenario reminiscent of the dial-up era, optical engineers are developing information-processing technologies aimed at terabit-per-second capabilities, which will be able to pump data through optical fibers straight to the home. Galili et al. have developed an optical switch that heads toward this goal. The authors present a chalcogenide glass chip, exploiting the material's nonlinear property of four-wave mixing to produce an all-optical switch that can demodulate a 640-Gbit/s optical signal into a series of 10-Gbit/s tributaries. The demonstration of such high-speed and error-free signal processing indicates that Internet starvation might be staved off, at least for the time being. — ISO

Opt. Express 17, 2182 (2009).

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