NICT Experiments with Quantum Dots to Increase Optic Fiber Bandwidth

Since you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume you love the Internet nearly as much as I do. Not only does the Internet contribute to my household income, it entertains, informs and occasionally bewilders me. One potential threat (from my point of view) to the Internet is companies eventually cracking down on bandwidth. That would probably force me to pay for cable TV again, instead of streaming Hulu and Netflix.

That potential horror may yet be averted thanks to researchers at the Photonic Network Research Institute, which is itself part of Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Dr. Hideo Miyahara and his team have succeeded, “… in developing an optical source for generating light of a large number of wavelengths with high precision.” The scientists have dubbed this process “quantum dot light source technology.”

According to the NICT’s press release, the team has succeeded in building a high-speed data transmission system with error-free data transmission that combines this light source and the photonic crystal fiber with ultra-broadband optical propagation characteristics. That means more speed for data-hungry engineering applications, like simulation and rendering on the cloud (as well as the latest blockbuster).

Quantum Dots

A quantum dot structure used as a light-amplifying material. Courtesy of NICT.

What exactly is a quantum dot?

A quantum dot is a tiny particle of nanometer scale made of semiconductor crystals. Use of this minute structure as a luminescent material or light-amplifying material in optical devices enables broadband operation at longer wavelengths, which is difficult to achieve by conventional means. –NICT

Beyond the cool factor, the breakthrough makes possible the idea of increasing bandwidth up to 70THz, which is a huge improvement over the current 10THz frequencies commonly used. The experiment also used photonic crystal fiber, showing the possibility of using a new wavelength band for optical communications.

As well as making sure I don’t miss my shows, the breakthrough has other potential applications. With a wavelength band between 1.0–1.3 microns, the new discovery can permeate human skin and blood. This could lead to breakthroughs in medical scanning and high resolution cell imaging.

Below you’ll find a video about the research.

Source: NICT

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