• November 25th, 2011
  • Dafiq Hussein

Universities here in Britain often carry out some remarkable research as, after all, they employ some of the brightest academics in the land, and so it is no surprise that scientists at Oxford University have been hard at work recently trying to find ways to optimise fibre-optics.

The Oxford University scientists are hoping to license technology that will make it easier to monitor telecommunications signals in optical fibres. A team from the university’s physical and theoretical chemistry research group has announced that they have developed a way to direct light in and out of the side of the fibre-optic cables. This is clever stuff indeed!

Furthermore, the method they have developed does not require expensive splitting or coupling devices, and so, may lead to even better cheap calls abroad.

This technology was originally developed to improve a spectrographic method of analysing liquids, however, it is believed that such techniques could be implemented by the telecoms industry as a way of taking a very small amount of light out of a cable in order to check the signal.

Lead researcher, Dr Claire Vallance, has been quoted saying: “This just provides a fairly simple means of doing that. The nice thing about it is it will work for any wavelength of light. Most existing fibre beam splitters or couplers […] are optimised for a particular wavelength of light, whereas our one, because it’s based on a kind of micro-mirror, will work at any wavelength.”

Ms Vallance went on to add: “We ended up having to do some kind of clever coupling chemistry that chemically bonds the aluminium just to the notched bit and not the other bit. Once we figured that out, it worked straight away.”

Isis Innovation, Oxford University’s technology transfer firm, is currently looking to license the technique to interested companies.