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New Optical Fiber Replaces Glass With Semiconductive Core

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the nougat-was-tempting-but dept.

Networking 56

cylonlover writes "Fiber optic cables can transmit over a terabyte of information per second – but that doesn't mean there still isn't room for improvement. One of those improvements, which was officially announced today, involves replacing the silica glass core of fiber optic strands with semiconductive zinc selenide. This new class of fiber optics, invented and created at Penn State University, is said to 'allow for a more effective and liberal manipulation of light.' The technology could have applications in the fields of medicine, defense, and environmental monitoring."

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First Post (-1, Offtopic)

ko7 (1990064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355268)

... and done without any fancy fiber optic cables?

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355538)

... and done without any fancy fiber optic cables?

just shut the fuck up kthx

Poor summary. (4, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355614)

I'll bet the first post did travel over fiber optics somewhere along its path.

Having said that, it appears that the technology mentioned in the article has nothing to do with data transmission over fiber optics. The examples given in the article include fiber optics "used for signs, displays, and art." There's also a brief mention of military lasers.

They make these new fibers by starting with hollow glass capillaries, then chemically depositing within. Try doing that to make a 1000 foot continuous fiber, which is a common bulk spool size. The article, unlike the summary, makes absolutely no mention of any potential for data transmission usage.

two questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355276)

Better bend radius?

How about sending control/test/signalling over the copper as well?

Re:two questions (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#35357504)

Terabytes per second: Does that mean that space diverse backups can be done?

Now let the CIA, NSA, FBI and local cops have it. (1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355288)

They need it to monitor us criminals, terrorists, and subversives.

Re:Now let the CIA, NSA, FBI and local cops have i (1)

ko7 (1990064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355298)

Yeah, good idea. I'm pretty sure I read something about the need for this technology in an HBGary email or two...

media bias (3, Funny)

managementboy (223451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355300)

ohh, again that liberal manipulation! where are those god fearing wires when you need them?

Re:media bias (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355346)

Commies! Upsetting the peaceful internets.. shoot 'em

Re:media bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355982)

Maybe you can make fun of them some more and they will come around to your way of thinking?

I mean over the years I have found the best way to convince someone of that your argument is correct is to make fun of them. Brilliant!

Re:media bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35356420)

When someone will not be convinced by any means anyway, at least ridicule will alleviate some of the frustration.

Re:media bias (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35357416)

Conservativism in this respect is indistinguishable from mental illness. No matter how much evidence and no matter how reliable said evidence is, there's a substantial number of people who refuse to accept reality or pose a plausible justification for why it isn't true.

Re:media bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35358062)

Congratulations, you've discovered satire.

Dispersion (1)

NickyNack (1998128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355306)

The article only states that the wavelength can be modified easier. But will the "new fiber" have the ability to transmit over long(er) distances compared to the traditional ones?

Re:Dispersion (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355374)

It's not a replacement for backhaul fiber. It's an improved material for optical amplifiers, frequency doublers, and other non-linear optical systems.

Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355316)

Sure, let's replace thousands kilometers of broadly available glass with some expensive, rare and poisonous metal alloy, for a few % improvement in bandwidth.

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355404)

OK. I like this idea. a few % will be worth it.

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (2)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355500)

You really don't want your data running over low grade unreliable SiO4 fibre.

You can only trust your data on Carnegie Glass's high quality ZnSe fibre. It's the only way to be sure.

Ask your ISP today if they use Carnegie ZnSe fibre in their infrastructure. Insist on only the best.

This has been a public service announcement from Carnegie Glass.

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35356936)

Distributed by Monster Cables?

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (1)

snookiex (1814614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355782)

They shouldn't have replaced the broadly available telegraph lines with an expensive glass thing in first place. Anyway, no one is going to replace anything until it is proven "cost-befitable".

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35356026)

Selenium has no hope of ever being cheap, it is rare by itself. Copper for telegraph lines is also not so cheap, and it requires high transmission power. Glass can be mass-produced with cheap materials available everywhere, and requires fewer repeaters than electric currents on copper. Even at the times when optical fibers were more expensive, it could be foreseen their prices wold decrease with a larger production, while Selenium will always stay expensive.

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35356994)

To which Space Nutters will reply that asteroids are full of selenium! 10^23 kilograms of it!! The fact that we have no technology at all to mine asteroids is no deterrent to Space Nutters, they'll just go and read more bad sci-fi and call it engineering!

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35356352)

Uhhh, zinc selenide is neither of those things. It is not soluble in water, so it is not toxic. The feedstock is about twice the price right now, but that will come down with increased production volume.

But hey, change is bad, right, so fuck it.

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#35357318)

s/SiO4/SiO2/

Re:Replace SiO4 with ZnSe? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35357450)

Water solubility isn't a requirement for toxicity. Hg for instance isn't water soluble, but is definitely toxic. Likewise, I wouldn't recommend drinking motor oil, because while it isn't water soluble, it's definitely toxic.

Whoah! (0)

Chuq (8564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355342)

Holy shit, don't tell Malcolm Turnbull!

Not really about increased bandwidth at all (5, Interesting)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355424)

Article and summary are misleading ... the main application is that zinc selenide cores are better than glass at longer wavelengths (so infrared lasers - like the ones the military are very keen on - become more possible). They also suggest it would enable artistic installations to do more fancy stuff with colours.

The potential bandwidth improvements over long-distance glass core fiber optic cables are not mentioned as significant, and it sounds like it would uneconomical anyway given that the manufacturing of these zinc selenide cores doesn't sound easy.

Re:Not really about increased bandwidth at all (1)

BCMcI (838317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355586)

Really long wavelengths is right. I worked with early versions of this in Infrared spectroscopy out to beyond 10um about 15-20 years ago. It was very brittle and hard to work with.

Re:Not really about increased bandwidth at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35356738)

why are the military very keen on infradred lasers+

Re:Not really about increased bandwidth at all (1)

afxgrin (208686) | more than 3 years ago | (#35363844)

Infradred laz0rz goes through stuff like fog and clouds and air bettar-

Earthing? (4, Interesting)

grahamlord86 (1603545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355466)

If it's semi-conductive, does it need to be earthed over a long run?

One advantage of fibre is the electrical isolation, no interference, and no potential difference between buildings.

Does having a semicondictive core erase that?

Re:Earthing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35356242)

Probably not, intrinsic (undoped) semiconductors are really poor conductors, you could probably make the approximation that any long length of it had basically infinite resistance.

Liberal bias (3, Funny)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355490)

The new fiber is said to "allow for a more effective and liberal manipulation of light."

Upon hearing this news Speaker of the House John Boehner announced a bill to ban all Federal optical fiber research, saying it was further evidence of a "dangerous liberal bias in the research community."

Re:Liberal bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35357004)

That's the problem isn't it. So many of these so called 'intelligent' researchers and scientists identify themselves as liberal or even worse: centrists. No one should be allowed a degree until they can demonstrate they know how to think right and aren't an enemy of America.

Re:Liberal bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35384140)

Grow up Dude!

How abundant and hazardous? (1)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355494)

I've never heard of zinc selenide so I looked it up.
Sounds hazardous. On the plus side maybe it will kill the rats that chew through the fiber optics.
I couldn't easily find out how abundant and cheap the material is.
Personally I don't think you can get too much cheaper than silica but then again I've got no clue what I'm talking about.

Re:How abundant and hazardous? (1)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 3 years ago | (#35356132)

"Zinc selenide (ZnSe), is a light yellow binary solid compound. It is an intrinsic semiconductor with a band gap of about 2.70 eV at 25 °C. ZnSe rarely occurs in nature. It is found in the mineral stilleite named after Hans Stille."

"Stilleite is a selinide mineral, zinc selenide with formula ZnSe. It has been found only as microscopic grey crystals associated with other selenides. It was originally discovered in Katanga Province, Zaire in 1956 and is named for the German geologist, Hans Stille (1876-1966)."

So... not sure of the cost to manufacture,... but raw extraction from politically unstable Zaire sounds more costly on the face of it.

Re:How abundant and hazardous? (3, Informative)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35356458)

On SigmaAldrich, the price is a little more than twice that of silicon dioxide of similar purity (optical grade). Increased production volumes are likely to greatly reduce the price.

Note that it is RARELY FOUND IN NATURE, and Zaire is one of the places it is found. It is, of course, incredibly simple to manufacture. Just combine zinc with selenium. The reaction is highly exothermic, so once you add a little heat to get it started, it will power itself to completion.

Re:How abundant and hazardous? (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35356422)

Sounds hazardous, does it? So does dihydrogen monoxide.

Zinc Selenide is no more hazardous than dirt. It is not soluble in water, and as such, can't enter the bloodstream, unless you are stuffing gobs of the stuff down your throat, and even then its unlikely.

How about we actually, you know, think about these things rather than just dismissing them because they "sound hazardous"?

Re:How abundant and hazardous? (1)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#35357804)

I did think and even looked up the material.
I even checked it twice now... still sounds hazardous to me. But like I said I could be wrong and these could be overkill warnings.

Hazards
EU Index 034-002-00-8
EU classification Toxic (T)
Dangerous for the environment (N)
R-phrases R23/25, R33, R50/53
R23/25: Toxic by inhalation and if swallowed
R33: Danger of cumulative effects
R50/53: Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment

S-phrases (S1/2), S20/21, S28, S45, S60, S61
(S1): Keep locked up
S20/21: When using do not eat, drink or smoke
S28: After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of ... (to be specified by the manufacturer)
S45: In case of accident or if you feel unwell seek medical advice immediately (show the label where possible)
S60: This material and its container must be disposed of as hazardous waste
S61: Avoid release to the environment. Refer to special instructions/safety data sheet

Re:How abundant and hazardous? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#35362606)

Well, compared to a lot of other stuff this isn't that bad, but then again, if it were spread across a wide area (for a big fibre network) it would be a bit of a hazard. A lot more of a hazard than silica at any rate.

Selenium is quite rare, and zinc isn't super cheap, so it would be fairly expensive. There'll probably be some niche use for this, but it won't be knocking silica off it's perch any time soon.

gimme gimme gimme (2)

bakamorgan (1854434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355572)

I will care when I can get this to my house and I have a computer that can take advantage of those speeds. So I can stream my pro... err netflix movies and let the wife play her facebook games at the same time.

Dont tell The Liberal Party of Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355582)

They will add it to there crazy list of why we shouldn't roll out the NBN (National broadband network that uses mainly fibre)

This is good for brain surgery (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355664)

It is hard to get the CO2 laser beam into the required area of the brain, precisely because no fiber would transmit the IR (wavelength = 10.6 micrometers) light. They are using a very clumsy pivoting arm with mirrors type of device for beam guiding which limits the ability to operate using CO2 lasers to superficial parts of the brain. Given the much better coagulative properties and larger penetration depth into biological tissue of the 10.6 micrometer light as opposed to, say, currently used YAG lasers (wavelength 1 to 2 micrometers, depending on the doping atoms) I expect this discovery to enable a whole new range of laser based surgical procedures.

The quality of scientific reporting at gizmag and all those tech-tabloids is pretty appalling, though. Seriously it is the fricken web, the thing was invented to make referring to original/more advanced sources easier. How hard it is to put a damn link to the publication or at least the uni press release!?

Re:This is good for brain surgery (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35355944)

That is not restricted to science reporting. Things are comming to a point where blogers are more trustworth and informative than the professional press. At least most bloggers will link to their reference data.

Re:This is good for brain surgery (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35358270)

The quality of scientific reporting at gizmag and all those tech-tabloids is pretty appalling, though.

I think the fact that fiber optics are so important in information transmission actually muddles things in this case, causing many of us to assume this was supposed to be a competitor to glass fiber optics instead of a way to carry lower frequency energy for cutting.

Men who stare at goats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35355676)

From the article:
"To make the fibers, the scientists stared with hollow glass capillaries."

I wonder if the recently in the news psy-ops program can contribute. They do wonders with goats!

Networking? (1)

ramzaruglia (1787898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35356006)

I think this is what the wave of network improvements that the world needs. But, I wonder when it will be implemented, maybe in Asia. Here in the Philippines, we are still stuck with the 1MBPS for home usage and 12MPBS for companies, which is our total bandwidth.

Could this work with Light Peak / Thunderbolt? (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 3 years ago | (#35356680)

Maybe I'm way off base, but when I read TFS I immediately thought of Light Peak / Thunderbolt.

Re:Could this work with Light Peak / Thunderbolt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35359106)

that's because you're a fucking idiot. lurk more.

'allow for a more effective and liberal...' (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35357266)

'allow for a more effective and liberal manipulation of light.'

it is bad enough this communist secret muslim obama is turning us into a freedom destroying country by giving us better healthcare. now his vile fascist liberal agenda is to manipulate the physical properties of light itself? as a solid conservative, i will not abide it

photons are conservative particles: conservation of mass-energy, conservation of momentum, etc. those evil liberals want to turn this good god-fearing conservative particle with possibly homosexual physical manipulations? no, not on my watch. the liberals will not mess with the laws of nature, like evolution

Re:'allow for a more effective and liberal...' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35363468)

Don't be a douchebag. It's not cute and it's not funny.

Comms speed is measured in bits/second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35358008)

You would think that someone writing about fiber optics should know that.

And still (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35366678)

most of us are stuck with a copper last mile.

someone had too say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35367218)

A terabyte a second should be enough for anyone!

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