Information Travels at the Speed of Light

The Internet mostly functions via a network of fiber optic cables. Researchers are now working on a laser that will increase the amount of information that can be transferred through this network. The new laser will have data traveling through light speed fiber optics to deliver information to computers everywhere at the press of a button.

Light has the ability to carry a great amount of data—much more than microwaves which have been the principle information carrier over great distances up until now. In order to harness the transferring power of light, scientists need to develop a laser that holds as close to one frequency as possible. The closer to one frequency it is, the more data it can hold.

The fiber optic network that is currently in place uses a laser that was invented in the 1970s. Laser technology that is 40 years old is still in use today because it is unmatched in its ability to hold closely to one frequency, and it continues to transfer large amounts of data across great distances. The washboard design of the laser itself filters the signal, keeping waves that could corrupt the signal to a minimum. However, the growing demand for bandwidth has spurred on scientists to develop a more efficient laser.

The older lasers use layers of semiconductors that changes the electrical current into light, and then the light is stored in the same place. These conductors also absorb light which degrades the “purity” of the laser. The new lasers, on the other hand, store the light in a separate silicon layer apart from the conductors that could potentially absorb it

The purity of this new laser could mean a lot for the future of fiber optics. In the past, lasers have employed a pulsing technique. Information was carried by flipping the lasers on and off. Now, researchers are using a method that puts the information in the laser without having to turn it on and off. The information is stored within breaks or delays in the waves. The purer the frequency of the laser, the more of these data breaks it can contain.

As scientists hedge away at the issue of preserving the purity of laser frequency so that immense amounts of data can be stored, light speed fiber optic delivery of information only gets better. With this new technology, the potential for the Internet to house new forms of yet-to-be-discovered media is imminent.