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January 17, 2007

Microphotonic devices for higher speed communications



Researchers at MIT have developed a new device that will improve communications. Fiber optics cause random polarizations of light that can lead to weakened or garbled signals. The new structure makes all incoming light one polarization before the data is processed.

The current advance pertains only to those photonic applications that involve light with multiple polarizations--mainly communications applications that involve fiber optics. There hasn't been much economic pressure in the past couple of years to develop technology for these applications because of a glut in bandwidth, but now communications demands are increasing again, says Erich Ippen, professor of electrical engineering and physics at MIT and one of the researchers on the project.

"When you integrate things like this, the complexity and the performance of the kinds of filtering we can do are a little more advanced than the methods that are used today," Ippen says. And that, he says, will make it possible to meet the demands of next-generation telecommunications.

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