Electronic Design

Team Advances Hollow-Core Optical Fibers

Scientists from the University of Bath have discovered a way to speed up production of hollow-core optical fibers — a new generation of optical fibers that could lead to faster and more powerful computing and telecommunications technologies. The procedure, described in the journal Optics Express, cuts the production time of hollow-core optical fibers from a week to a day. Optical fibers are important to the development of devices and technologies that use light instead of electrical circuits to carry information. These technologies will lead to faster optical telecommunication and more powerful and accurate laser machining. Hollow-core fibers are an alternative to regular optical fibers, in which light signals travel through glass. Problems arise if the glass is damaged by an excess of light, or if light signals are blurred by pulsations caused by the glass. With hollow-core fibers, though, only a special sort of optical fiber can guide light down a path. Since they are so detailed, these fibers have been difficult to fabricate and can only work for a limited range of wavelengths. To remedy this, a team of researchers at the University of Bath narrowed the wall of glass around the central hole of the fiber by just a hundred nanometers. This small change broadened the range of wavelengths that can be transmitted down the fiber. "This is a major improvement in the development of hollow-core fibre technology," professor Jonathan Knight of the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials in the department of physics, said in a statement. "Fibers in which light travels in air down a hollow core hold great promise for a new generation of optical fibers." Knight said the fibers will enable engineers to more easily use light rather than electrical circuits to carry information, and brings engineers closer to the day when information technology will consist of optical devices rather than electronic circuits.

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