May 03, 2010

Polymer Optical Switches Could Make the Internet Hundreds of Times Faster

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Tel Aviv University develops fiber optics technology to replace semi-conductors. It's a new nano-based technology that can make computers and the Internet hundreds of times faster — a communications technology "enabler" that may be in use only five or ten years in the future. Dr. Koby Scheuer has developed a new plastic-based technology for the nano-photonics market, which manufactures optical devices and components. Reported in the journal Optics Express, his plastic-based "filter" is made from nanometer-sized grooves embedded into the plastic. When used in fiber optics cable switches, this new device will make our communication devices smaller, more flexible and more powerful.

* Every optical device used in today's communication tools has a filter.
* Current optical filters are made from semiconductors
* Semi-conductors, grown on crystals in sterile labs and processed in special ovens, take days and sometimes months to manufacture
* the new plastic polymer switches come in an easy-to-work-with liquid solution. Using a method called 'stamping,' almost any laboratory can make optical devices out of the silicon rubber mold we've developed
* The silicon rubber mold is scored with nano-sized grooves, invisible to the eye and each less than a millionth of a meter in width. A plastic solution can be poured over the mold to replicate the optical switch in minutes. When in place in a fiber-optic network, the grooves on the switch modulate light coming in through the cables, and the data is filtered and encoded into usable information
* the device can also be used in the gyros of planes, ships and rockets; inserted into cell phones; and made a part of flexible virtual reality gloves so doctors could "operate" on computer networks over large distances.



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