Researchers from Scotland and India are working together to develop a game-changing platform for optical communications to meet the ever-increasing demand for faster data streaming.
They'll be developing amplifiers and lasers which could increase exponentially the amount of data that can be carried by glass fibres no thicker than a human hair.
The demand for bandwidth in optical communications continues to grow with the rapid growth in online visual communications, online gaming, video streaming and so on.The wiring of international data centres is already a massive challenge as current technologies which use single core fibres reach their limit.
Researchers believe that, without further advances in the science, bottle-necks will form at long haul communications nodes. Now €˜multi-core' fibre (MCF) is widely considered to promise a solution to the problem. The active fibre components that the Scottish-Indian team are developing will enable future networks to be built.
Indian-Scottish research team
The team is drawn from Heriot-Watt University's School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, led by Dr Henry Bookey and the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI) in Kolkata, led by Dr Mukul Chandra Paul.
The Indian team brings expertise in the fabrication of novel optical fibre structures while the Scottish team will design, test and build the devices enabled by the new fibres.
This collaboration brings together world leading groups in optical fibre research and optics and represents a rare opportunity to bring together key technologies that could herald a step change in the industry.
Dr Henry Bookey
Dr Bookey said "With the prevalence of video streaming and the emergence of cloud computing, we're reaching the capacity of standard, single core fibres.
"Multi-core optical fibre (MCF) is considered by many to be the next platform for optical communications.
"This collaboration brings together world leading groups in optical fibre research and optics and represents a rare opportunity to bring together key technologies that could herald a step change in the industry."
Aside from components for communications, the development of multi-cored fibre laser array devices may have other applications including multi-functional fibre probes for endoscopy, laser surgery, machining and defence.
Funding by UKIERI
The project has been granted £70,000 as part of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) to cover staff and student exchanges as close interaction between Heriot-Watt and the CGCRI is needed in the fibre design stage and device development stages of the project.