Photonic crystals will make web surfing super smooth

February 25th, 2008 - 5:18 pm ICT by admin  

New York Feb 25 (IANS) Glitches in web surfing and connectivity may soon be a thing of the past, with researchers working on a potentially perfect way of sorting and distributing voluminous data over fibre-optics worldwide, according to Rana Biswas of the Iowa State University. The new technology is based on a 3D photonic crystal ‘add-drop’ filter, which promises vastly enhanced transmission of multiple wavelengths along the same cable.

“There are up to 160 wavelength channels traveling through an optical fiber at the same time,” said Biswas, a developer of the filter and an Ames Laboratory physicist.

Since a lot of data is sent over these multiple channels, it’s necessary to drop off individual channels at different points on the fiber and add data streams into unfilled wavelength channels, he said.

“You want to be able to pick off just one of those frequencies and send it to an individual end user,” said Biswas. “That’s where these 3-D photonic crystals come into play.”

The innovative filter has been spurred by efforts to develop all-optical transport networks that would eliminate electrical components from such links and guarantee flawless data reception to end users.

The idea of using photonic crystals for ‘add-drop’ filters has been around the mid 1990s. Many groups have been working to develop the technology with 2D photonic crystals.

Biswas said it works but under limitations. “For example, in a phone conversation, the voices would dim out. But with 3-D photonic crystal add-drop filters, the communication would be clear.”

Biswas, Kohli, Tuttle and Ho of US. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, may have come up with a potentially perfect ‘add-drop’ filters, but they still have to address other problems.

Getting the size of the photonic crystals down to work at the wavelengths used for Internet communications, 1.5 microns, is the big challenge, Biswas said.

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