Bemoaning the poor load speed of Web pages or the crawl of media downloads could soon become a thing of the past following news that a team of Australian scientists have developed a technology capable of making the Internet up to 100 times faster than the current top-end performance offered by leading network providers.After some four years of development, which was spawned by the idea of a small scratch on a piece of glass, a team working out of the University of Sydney claims to have created a near-instantaneous and error-free method of providing online users with unlimited Net access anywhere in the world.“This is a critical building block and a fundamental advance on what is already out there,” commented Professor Ben Eggleton, director of the “Centre for Ultra-high bandwith Devices for Optical Systems” (CUDOS), which is based within the University of Sydney’s School of Physics. “We are talking about networks that are potentially up to 100 times faster without costing the consumer any more,” than they already pay.According to Professor Eggleton, whose scientific team beat its own deadline for completion by a full year in developing the new circuit technology, the recent advancement of optical fibre delivery has meant that online data has the capacity to travel at much greater speeds than those currently achieved, which is where the scratched glass comes into play.“The scratched glass we’ve developed is actually a Photonic Integrated Circuit,” he explained in a University of Sydney statement. “This circuit uses the ‘scratch’ as a guide or a switching path for information -- kind of like when trains are switched from one track to another -- except this switch takes only one picosecond to change tracks.“This means that in one second the switch is turning on and off about one million times,” he added. “We are talking about photonic technology that has terabit per second capacity.”An initial demonstration of the photonic technology has revealed it as capable of providing speeds around 60 times faster than today’s networks, which rely on electric switching, but the team is confident that further development will glean even quicker performance.
Not limited to just the University of Sydney, a contributing CUDOS team from the Australian National University played a significant part in the development of the Photonic Integrated Circuit. Further support was provided by the Technical University of Denmark while funding was made available through the Australian Research Council (ARC).