Nikola Alic, a photonics research scientist at the University of California’s Qualcomm Institute in San Diego, argues that optical research offers the best hope for helping the Internet accommodate the ever-growing flow of multimedia services.
"All of today's information traffic in the backbone is transmitted over fiber-optic networks," he says. "A single optical fiber made of glass -- more precisely, silica -- offers more than 25 THz of bandwidth."
Alic leads one of several research teams worldwide that are independently investigating optical technologies that promise to make networks -- and the Internet -- faster and more efficient. "Extending reach and/or capacity of the fiber optic network is essential to accommodate growth," he says.
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