Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

'Optical Fiber' Made Out of Thin Air

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the sufficiently-advanced-technology dept.

Communications 115

Dave Knott writes: Scientists from the University of Maryland say they have turned thin air into an "optical fiber" that can transmit and amplify light signals without the need for any cables. As described in the research, this was accomplished by generating a laser with its light split into a ring of multiple beams forming a pipe. Very short and powerful pulses from the laser are used to heat the air molecules along the beam extremely quickly. Such rapid heating produces sound waves that take about a microsecond to converge to the center of the pipe, creating a high-density area surrounded by a low-density area left behind in the wake of the laser beams. The lower density region of air surrounding the center of the air waveguide has a lower refractive index, keeping the light focused, and allowing the higher-density region (with its correspondingly higher index of refraction) to act like an optical fiber. The findings, reported in the journal Optica, have applications in long range laser communications, high-resolution topographic mapping, air pollution and climate change research, and could also be used by the military to make laser weapons.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Perfect to mount (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517331)

On top of a shark's head.

Re:Perfect to mount (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 3 months ago | (#47517873)

"Optical Fibres" eh? So that's what the kids are calling death rays these days.

Re:Perfect to mount (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 months ago | (#47520911)

does anybody else feel a small warm spot on their forehead?

Re:Perfect to mount (-1, Offtopic)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 3 months ago | (#47518057)

On top of a shark's head.

Why is this moderated funny?

Is this sad, tired old meme actually still genuinely funny in this day and age?

really?

Re:Perfect to mount (5, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | about 3 months ago | (#47518575)

Why is this moderated funny?

Is this sad, tired old meme actually still genuinely funny in this day and age?

really?

Yes.

Re:Perfect to mount (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519819)

If you don't like it, don't bitch. Instead write posts that are more fun to read than this and you can mod it down yourself.
Tell me, truly, if you thought the parent was such a waste of space, what made you think complaining about it would be more deserving of anyone's attention?

Re: Perfect to mount (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47520583)

Go be jaded somewhere else lol

Re:Perfect to mount (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47520121)

1997. 17 years. You god damn sad little faggots.

It's not original. And it's not creative. And it's certainly not funny anymore.

Mod parent redundant.

Re:Perfect to mount (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 3 months ago | (#47520597)

As if you've never quoted Monty Python, Star Wars, or Captain Kirk.

Re:Perfect to mount (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47521101)

It's not original. And it's not creative. And it's certainly not funny anymore.

I agree. And yet, I recognise that this is just my opinion, and I don't expect everyone else to confirm to my sense of humour.

Mounting options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517363)

Can this be mounted on a Shark?

America is Booming on Toads (-1, Offtopic)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 3 months ago | (#47517367)

Hello fellow internet champions. America is at a turning point and you and I know that it has to do with toads and Slashdort. But what you might not know is the signal importance of Italiy in all this. Italiy is involved in the highest levels of Slashdort. Most of Slashdort's editors are Italian operatives. I should know: I am Italian and I know everything about Italiy and its army of harmonic toads poised to sap the moral fiber of Kentucky and other states. Remember, B-flat or B-sharp! But no other keys are permitted untiol we get the toad problem under control with the aid of JESUS and HAM SANDWICJRS.

Re:America is Booming on Toads (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517383)

There's no such thing as B#, basement dweller.

Re:America is Booming on Toads (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 3 months ago | (#47517429)

I see you stopped your music education in kindergarten.

Re:America is Booming on Toads (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 3 months ago | (#47517885)

Baby on board, oh how I adored...

Re:America is Booming on Toads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518051)

That sign on my car's window paa-yyy aayyy aayyys...

Re:America is Booming on Toads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519987)

It's "how I adore", not "oh how I adored" and it's "window pane" not whatever you wrote.
Amateurs.

Re:America is Booming on Toads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518397)

Uh oh ... better tell the Key of A# that its supertonic is a C. It will be surprised!

Climate change (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517399)

It seems you can't really conduct basic science without a climate change tie-in.

Oh, and somehow this was achieved despite the US "falling behind" everyone else because budgetcutrepublicandeniercorporates. And stuff.

Re:Climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517795)

Yes, because of those fat grants scientists get for climate change research, right?

Obl: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517409)

Now we just need frickin sharks that can fly.

Re: Obl: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517471)

Haven't you seen Sharknado!?!

I read the list of applications (4, Interesting)

Crashmarik (635988) | about 3 months ago | (#47517421)

and the only ones that looked remotely practical was the laser weapon and remote sensing requiring high power high focus.

Using lasers for freespac communications is already very practical and well solved, just look at this example

http://esc.gsfc.nasa.gov/267/2... [nasa.gov] (BTW definitely one of the better uses of NASA's budget. )

All the other mentioned applications also have off the shelf solutions that perform exceptionally well. The weapons and high power remote sensing however while listed last seem to have the most to gain. Being able to generate a waveguide in either case solves their two big problems atmospheric distortion and the need to focus large amounts of laser energy on a small point.

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 3 months ago | (#47517625)

I can't be the only one getting a squee moment from the fact that we might finally have a chance to create practical laser weapons.

Re:I read the list of applications (3, Funny)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 3 months ago | (#47517653)

Maybe if that squee is out of fear.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518005)

You need to fear the guys with red laser weapons. The blue laser weapons guys are ok.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518545)

I do wonder what sound those waveguides make.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519255)

CLACK!

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518089)

Fuck yeah! Murica!!1!!

This is going to be such an AWESOME way to kill people! Shooting people to death with guns is sooo last century, but laser guns!! OMG this will make killing people sooooo much moar fun!

MURICAAA!!!!!!!!!

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | about 3 months ago | (#47517637)

How well do freespace laser communication fare in foggy environments?

Pretty well actually (2)

Crashmarik (635988) | about 3 months ago | (#47517713)

Pretty well actually
http://www.fastlinks-wireless.... [fastlinks-wireless.com]
http://etherealmind.com/free-s... [etherealmind.com]

They are currently in widespread use

The real question is just how much improvement would you get with the new system under inclement conditions. The other big question is how they fare against microwave links.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518377)

FSO communications work very poorly in foggy environments. IR lasers (which is what all production FSO systems use) typically have a usable signal at about twice what the human eye can see (in reduced visibility environments, up to about 2km). Foggy situations are much worse than rain, as the signal from the beam refracts through each droplet with a lensing or dispersion effect. Fog droplets have the same effect but orders of magnitude more pronounced due to the higher "lens" count.

How do I know this; ten years as support for and R&D for a now-former FSO manufacturer.

FSO is very neat and has a place. However, it's a very niche product, and given products like Ubiquiti's AirFiber, the price point of FSO rarely is justifiable and the technical issues with FSO aren't trivial.

FastLinks was an installation partner for MRV, which pretty much exited the FSO business entirely in 2011. (two of the three case studies were MRV) and LightPointe. LightPointe was our biggest competitor, and they did what we decided with FSO we needed to do; Integrate a Ubiquiti NanoStation 5 as a inclement weather/fog backup link.

LightPointe has also diversified and bet a LOT more of their business on 60GHz/70GHz/80GHz AireBridge products

On the second link, there are some serious laughs. The comment on FSO not needing specialist installers but radio requiring such; hilarious. Any idiot can setup a NBM5 link for 2 miles, tower to tower and have a reliable 100 mbit link in an afternoon. A good installation of FSO requires a day at minimum, and that's assuming your technicians know how to handle and terminate fiber properly. In addition, they'll need to know a LOT more about structural rigidity and mount placement as mount movement is a MUCH larger problem in FSO.

And PAVData; interesting story on the history of the name. PAV. The root of the name; Male Genatalia = P, And = A, Female Genatalia = V.

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517731)

says this technique can increase the SNR by 10^4, which means you can use less reliable forms of modulation to increase your channel bandwidth. this absolutely is in no way limited to only weaponry. and what is most freespac communication if not remote sensing requiring high power high focus.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47520335)

The best part is that we can then encode an extensive EULA into the communication channel. It would state that by allowing the beam to enter your body you accept that you are in fact an enemy of the state and thereby are condemened to death. Anyone failing to be killed by said weapon is in serious violation of the EULA and would be subject to harsh legal penalties.

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#47517779)

And you will note at the end of the paper:

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the National Science Foundation.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518141)

And what is your point?

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#47518205)

That the parent was most likely right in surmising the intended use as a laser weapon.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518385)

I've worked on several projects before that had Air Force and Navy funding involved, and were of little practical use as a weapon. They are interested in communication and sensing methods too, which is what some high power laser projects are working toward. There is also a lot of interest in using lasers to power or recharge UAVs at a distance. While a lot of the systems vaguely resemble something that could be used as a weapon, they would suck in that role. Like questioning if a new airplane catapult for carriers could be used for launching cannonballs.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519075)

Use in a laser weapon. Ftfy. as the USAF probably tried to do with the ABL project, a militarily useful laser beam will cause ionization along the laser beam path, which seriously attenuates and defocuses the beam. If they can incorporate this wuth the Navy's shipborne laser work...

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518363)

Why did you leave off the last sentence:

The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

Missing Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517895)

Holography. Seriously, how is this missing?

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517953)

Ehh, no. free space optics means over the air, not over interplanetary space. Yes, it is stupid, but that's how it is used.

We have good interplanetary space optical links. Not excellent, but good.

However, down here in the blue planet, we don't have anything that good. Once we can link two towers 70km apart with a 1 Gbps link, THEN it will be good. If it goes up to 10Gbps, THEN it will be excellent.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518013)

70km LOS would require 200 foot towers at each end, it's probably going to be cheaper to run cable.

Re: I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518613)

Yes, because we all live in prairies without buildings.

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#47521171)

70km LOS would require 200 foot towers at each end, it's probably going to be cheaper to run cable.

that's not too high to be honest. it would not be cheaper to dig the trench for the fiber, cross the reivers and whatever and most areas in the west already have artificial buildings higher than that, not to mention all the mountains etc.

Re:I read the list of applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518343)

Using lasers for freespac communications is already very practical and well solved, just look at this example

Yesssssh... just like computer networking, both wired and wireless, is already very practical and well-solved, so no need for anything faster than... 10Mbit, or 11Mbit, or 54Mbit, or 100Mbit, or... take your pick.

Really now, what are you smoking?

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | about 3 months ago | (#47518655)

Using lasers for freespac communications is already very practical and well solved, just look at this example

Yesssssh... just like computer networking, both wired and wireless, is already very practical and well-solved, so no need for anything faster than... 10Mbit, or 11Mbit, or 54Mbit, or 100Mbit, or... take your pick.

Really now, what are you smoking?

Actually you have an excellent example there. Networking/communication is much more sensitive to reliability issues than performance issues especially for long distance links. This may help you understand, ask yourself how many people who already have broadband will derive significant benefit from having the amount of available bandwidth increased by a factor of 10 ? Then ask yourself how many people would significantly benefit from having their reliability increased by a factor of 10 ?

Now you also have to ask yourself if you are running 10 times the traffic through one of these links, just how much more impact will downtime have ?

Engineering is always about balancing your choices against each other, in this case you have to think a little about just where this might actually be used. For the communication application it needs niches, where it can outperform traditional fiber, AND existing line of sight communication links.

Hope that helps you understand why so many things you see being touted as the nicest thing since slice bread and will be everywhere in a few years, never amount to much of anything. If it doesn't see if you can find an archive of old popular science/mechanics/scientific american magazines from 20-40 years ago and look at what they were thinking would be the next big thing. Is anyone even thinking about producing a nutcracker vtol ? http://forum.keypublishing.com... [keypublishing.com]

Re:I read the list of applications (1)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about 3 months ago | (#47518455)

The paper makes it clear that this is about remote sensing, and more about getting the response back from the remote location than getting the probe beam to it.

The list of other potential uses seems to have been added by the linked article's author, who does not seem to have asked himself why, if you are sending guide beams to the destination, can't you just modulate them?

The word 'weapon' does not appear in the paper, and the researchers do not seem to have attempted to guide powerful beams by this method. Given that the guide beams can create this channel, perhaps attempting to send an equally or more powerful beam through that channel would dissipate it.

Oh btw, this could be weaponized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517433)

Excuse the other bullshit we made up to make this look like civil research.

Ladders! (1)

John Tromp (3763431) | about 3 months ago | (#47517465)

When reading the description of a bundle of laser beams guiding a central one, I can't help but think of a ladder evolving in the game of Go... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

What a silly title ... (4, Interesting)

MondoGordo (2277808) | about 3 months ago | (#47517469)

One of the chief benefit of optical fiber is that it doesn't require LOS. All they've done here is demonstrate the capability to mimic the loss-less advantages of optical fiber without actually having a fiber ... once they can do this around corners... then maybe they've "created optical fiber out of thin air" until then not so much.

Re:What a silly title ... (3, Informative)

wiggles (30088) | about 3 months ago | (#47517507)

Not necessarily - there are lots of situations where it's not practical to run a cable. Secure connectivity between naval vessels is a prime example, others would be for use in the space program, or cheaper data communication between buildings in a campus. Residential broadband internet would be simpler - put an optical transceiver on the roof and point it at a tower - no more digging up the garden to provide fttp.

Re:What a silly title ... (1)

Dynedain (141758) | about 3 months ago | (#47517745)

Optical is already used in those scenarios for line-of-sight networking. How does engineering a wind tunnel around a laser improve the effectiveness in any of those scenarios?

Re:What a silly title ... (3, Insightful)

wiggles (30088) | about 3 months ago | (#47517963)

I'm no expert on this technology, but from tfs, it would seem to increase bandwidth by minimizing loss over distance, allowing for longer range and faster speed.

Re:What a silly title ... (1)

fabioalcor (1663783) | about 3 months ago | (#47519685)

Not necessarily - there are lots of situations where it's not practical to run a cable. Secure connectivity between naval vessels is a prime example, others would be for use in the space program, or cheaper data communication between buildings in a campus. Residential broadband internet would be simpler - put an optical transceiver on the roof and point it at a tower - no more digging up the garden to provide fttp.

It would work... until it rains.

Re:What a silly title ... (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 3 months ago | (#47521083)

Just increase the energy on the surrounding laser beams to evaporate any water in it's path. That way it can also double as a security measure.

Re:What a silly title ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517535)

Mirrors =D

But what does it do? (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 3 months ago | (#47517539)

I'm puzzled as to what this does or what it's good for, exactly.

... they have turned thin air into an "optical fiber" that can transmit and amplify light signals without the need for any cables.

1. Air already transmits light signals. It's transparent.
2. They haven't mentioned anything about amplifying light signals. This would be hard.

So, they are creating a "pipe" that can transmit light... but it doesn't stop beam spread (since the beams that make up the "pipe" still have diffraction-limited beam spread), and it can't bend light around corners. So, they now have a pipe that will funnel a laser beam along the path made by other laser beams, which take it exactly the same path that the beam would go without the pipe...

Re:But what does it do? (1)

mrego (912393) | about 3 months ago | (#47517591)

Yes, but it can kill stray birds and insects...

Re:But what does it do? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517775)

air is not transparent and does cause beam scattering. by creating a refractive channel like this they absolutely will reduce beam dispersion. obviously it doesn't eliminate beam spread but even a fiber channel perfectly designed for a single mode will have some diffusion so whats your point?

they may be able to increase snr by 10^4 over current technologies at 100 m. that's a serious improvement that shouldn't simply be dismissed so thoughtlessly.

Little, as far as I can tell [But what does it do? (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 3 months ago | (#47518689)

air is not transparent

To the extent that air is not transparent, this doesn't work.

and does cause beam scattering.

This does not address beam scattering. If the air is scattering the laser beam, it still scatters the beam.

by creating a refractive channel like this they absolutely will reduce beam dispersion.

It would reduce beam spread... except that the beams that create the channel are not themselves channeled.

obviously it doesn't eliminate beam spread

on this we agree

but even a fiber channel perfectly designed for a single mode will have some diffusion so whats your point?

My point is that from a surface-level analysis, it doesn't do anything useful.

they may be able to increase snr by 10^4 over current technologies at 100 m. that's a serious improvement that shouldn't simply be dismissed so thoughtlessly.

Let me repeat. The beams that create the channel are not themselves channeled. So the channel itself... has the diffraction, scattering, and beam spread of an unchanneled beam. The net result can't be better than an unchanneled beam, because it is made out of an unchanneled beam.

Re:Little, as far as I can tell [But what does it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519105)

Solitons, baby.

Re:Little, as far as I can tell [But what does it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519697)

So the channel itself... has the diffraction, scattering, and beam spread of an unchanneled beam.

The beams making the channel are channeled by themselves, they create filaments that self-focus the beam. Self-focusing beams in air have been pretty well established at this point and will go quite far if you have enough power because of the attenuation involved.

Re:Little, as far as I can tell [But what does it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47520007)

So the channel itself... has the diffraction, scattering, and beam spread of an unchanneled beam

The channel is created out of lasers strong enough to create self-focusing filaments in air. Even if you have slight beam spread, the filamentation process cause the beam to essentially collapse to a very small diameter as long as you are above a certain power density (although high enough, and you get multiple filaments). This will negate diffraction and beam spread. Because the filament process is quite non-linear, scattering is not much of an issue and the fraction of small fraction of scattered light will not have the same effects on the air. The only big effect on the channel creation is a strong attenuation of the beam due to all of the energy being spent on ionizing the air column.

Re:But what does it do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518415)

(since the beams that make up the "pipe" still have diffraction-limited beam spread),

At high enough power levels in media, like air, this is not true. The heating and breakdown induced in air can cause the beam to self-focus. This comes at the expensive of energy from the beam, so the distance you can do this is related to the power you can produce. And at even higher powers, you have problems with it not focusing down nicely into a single structure, but forming many filaments that move around, distort things, and cause a lot more power loss. This ultimately gives a power limit you can reasonably focus at a distance using a single laser pulse. But there are quite a few multiple pulse techniques around, of which this is an advanced one, that can counteract some of the filamenting problems or at least give more control over it.

Re:But what does it do? (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 3 months ago | (#47521143)

What about to get the reflected beam back to the starting point (thus "remote sensing", being able to do e.g. a Raman spectrum at a long distance)? Here, you have light scattering in all directions. The optical fiber will make sure that more of it gets back the way the original laser beam came. That could be phrased as "amplification", though I think another word would be more correct.

Re:What a silly title ... (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 3 months ago | (#47521163)

That would be in the same way that it would be silly to call gold a metal, because it is too soft to replace steel?

This does more or less what an optical fiber does: It keeps light on the right path by using differences in refractive index (though I imagine the exact process is different: Optical fibers use total internal reflection, this probably just uses refraction). An optical fiber has the additional advantage of being able to go around corners, but that is not what makes it an optical fiber; the refractive index profile is.

But... (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 months ago | (#47517515)

But, does it bend? After all, that's the point behind fiberoptics, to be able to snake a light beam around corners and through tight spaces so that we don't have to maintain perfect optical alignment over a distance. So, what's the point of this setup? Does it keep moths away by burning them on the outer beams?

Re:But... (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47517567)

Our new Monster Cable Air ionizes the air around the signal ensuring maximal defrobulation of the signal flux and maximal polarization in the near infra-red spectrum, guaranteeing a smooth, minty taste.

When connect to your tube amplifier, this provides a sound which is spunkier and enhanced in the pink spectrum, causing women to swoon. Achieve smooth bass response like never before.

For only eleventy zillion dollars, you too can get the most out of your sound system. :-P

Either this stuff is real, with real benefits, or it's hype. Either way, someone will use it for marketing complete crap.

Re:But... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 3 months ago | (#47517641)

I'm not buying it unless it has gold plated connectors.

Re: But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517845)

And comes with a three wolf moon tshirt

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518413)

But will it keep the oxygen out of the channel?

Re:But... (1)

johnsie (1158363) | about 3 months ago | (#47518855)

I don't care if it bends. Does it blend? That is the question.

It's called Emperor Fiber (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 3 months ago | (#47517517)

It's the stuff they made the Emperor's clothes with.

Headphone cables from thin air! (0)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 3 months ago | (#47517519)

My phone does this, it's called "Speaker mode"

Seriously, saying "fiber optic cables from thin air" is an idiotic statement. IR remotes have been doing this for decades, and using lasers to do so has also been done for ages.

Re:Headphone cables from thin air! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517809)

no, IR remotes and handheld lasers have not been using refractive channels made out of air as a waveguide to transmit pulses of light with as little noise as possible for decades.

Re:Headphone cables from thin air! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47521107)

Perhaps if you'd read more than the headline you'd see that this is not what IR remotes and lasers have been doing for ages, at all.

Seriously, saying "fiber optic cables from thin air" is an idiotic statement.

It's actually a pretty good summation of a very clever bit of engineering. What's your beef?

energy costs ... (1)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 3 months ago | (#47517559)

Sounds prohibitively expensive.

Re:energy costs ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517693)

That really depends on distance, terrain and actual costs. If it can provide high bandwidth over very long distances without having to trench up the side of a mountain or into the woods, at a reasonable price it could make deploying rural broadband more likely to happen in my lifetime.

Prefer this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517709)

Increasing the bandwidth of existing fiberoptic cables:

We present simulations of a scheme to perform wavelength conversion of signals that eliminates phase-noise transfer from the pump to the converted signal. Nondegenerate four-wave mixing in a semiconductor optical amplifier is used to convert the signal to a new wavelength; and if an optical comb generator is used as the multiple-pump source, then the signal can be converted without incurring any phase-noise transfer from the pumps. We highlight the capabilities of this scheme by simulating the conversion of 16-QAM signals at 10 Gbaud and showing that errors due to phase-noise accumulation are eliminated thus enabling conversion whose only impairment would be the total additive optical noise.
Source: http://doras.dcu.ie/19643/ [doras.dcu.ie]

Is it just me or ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517727)

Is it just me, or does the idea of "creating a ring of lasers" to enable laser communication seem sort of silly? I mean, we already can communicate using a single laser. Why bother with the ring? Does it cut through fog or something?

The one aspect I found interesting is the differential air density. Properly tuned, it might be useful to push or drill at a distance with only light.

why not just use the laser to transmit data? (1)

Punto (100573) | about 3 months ago | (#47517763)

Why not just use the first laser to transmit the data you need in the first place?

Re:why not just use the laser to transmit data? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47519231)

I assume the fibre created inside the "laser tube" will be less noisy, allowing higher bandwidth.

Receiver must be nuke proof... (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 3 months ago | (#47517831)

So if I understand this correctly, the beams that form the "psudofiber" have to be intense enough to heat the surrounding air in less than a microsecond... and the signal will be pushed down the center of the pipe... so all those hoards of unholy photons that created the pipe in the first place are going to arrive at the destination a microsecond before the signal does, and they should still be nicely focused and searching for a nice electronic sensor to deposit all that energy into... Or did I miss something?

Re:Receiver must be nuke proof... (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47519285)

HP ink jet printer heads heat the ink up to temperatures 7 times hotter than the the sun. It doesn't end up burning a hole in the earth's crust though, since it only lasts 2 microseconds.
http://h20423.www2.hp.com/prog... [hp.com]

It doesn't take a lot of energy to heat something up really fast as long as it's really low mass, like air.
In fact, the quicker you heat something up the less energy is required, since there is less time for the heat to dissipate during the heating process.

Real Genius (1)

Chad Smith (3448823) | about 3 months ago | (#47517903)

But can it vaporize a human target from space?

Observation at a distance (3, Interesting)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 3 months ago | (#47518105)

This would be good for performing measurements on objects you wouldn't want to get that close to. Like nuclear reactors.

Re:Observation at a distance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519027)

The 17th century called, they gave us telescopes and binoculars.

So a movie analogy (1)

vsigma (154562) | about 3 months ago | (#47518119)

Would be like the 'End' sequence in Ender's game where they use the drones to protect the gunship (or in our case the actual laser signal)

Thin air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518121)

More like thick air wrapped in thin air.

Yawn (2, Informative)

tlambert (566799) | about 3 months ago | (#47518243)

Predicted the 1960's (Kerr-induced self-focusing: http://journals.aps.org/prl/ab... [aps.org] ), and it was a big part of SDI: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov] and was again applied to space-to-ground weapons systems in 2009: http://journals.aps.org/prl/ab... [aps.org]

It was ale demonstrated at LLNL in 2009: http://www.researchgate.net/pu... [researchgate.net] and 2010: http://www.researchgate.net/pu... [researchgate.net]

What's new about this one is that they've renamed the tunnel as the desired artifact, rather than describing it in beams going down the tunnel.

Re:Yawn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518525)

Wow, you cite a bunch of theory and numeric papers, and label them as "demonstrated". You could at least find an experimental paper, e.g. demonstrating some of the effects in 2008 [umd.edu] by experiment... oh, but that is the same group as here. To be fair though, experimental work goes back to the mid 90s, and this group has been involved in that work for 15 years now. There has been considerable improvement in the work since the original theory predictions and early experiment work in the 90s, where now using multiple lasers has given a lot more flexibility and control over propagation.

Re:Yawn (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 3 months ago | (#47521233)

Doesn't all of your citations only have one laser, that then focuses itself (hence "self-focusing")? Wheres this has two lasers, where one focus the other?

Hopsfield: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518295)

All you'd need is a big spinning mirror and you could vaporize a human target from space.

This will disrupt communications using RFC1149 (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 3 months ago | (#47518603)

A million pigeons cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Application? (1)

angelbar (1823238) | about 3 months ago | (#47518607)

so.... A laser tube to conduct a laser signal? To protect the internal laser?

Lightsabers!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519385)

...or a laser bread slicer can now all be ours!!

Sorry officer... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47519501)

I was not trying to kill him, I was simply sending him a large amount of high speed data.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?