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Facebook Unveils Laser-Powered Internet Connectivity Solution

Facebook Unveils Laser-Powered Internet Connectivity Solution

Facebook Unveils Laser-Powered Internet Connectivity Solution

Facebook revealed a new laser-based concept for high-speed internet that will bypass the requirement for dedicated wavelength spectra and government licenses that come with them. On Tuesday Published in the journal Optica, the technique was established by researchers at Facebook’s Connectivity Lab.

The new technology can cover the way for fast optical wireless networks accomplished of delivering Internet service to far-flung places.

"A large fraction of people don't connect to the Internet because the wireless communications infrastructure is not available where they live, mostly in very rural areas of the world," said Tobias Tiecke, who led the research team.

Light-based wireless communication, also called free-space optical communications, offers a promising manner to bring the internet to areas where cell towers and optical fibers can be challenging to organize in a cost-effective way.

Using laser light to transfer information across the atmosphere can possibly offer very high bandwidths and data capacity, but one of the main challenges has been how to exactly point a very small laser beam carrying the data at a small light detector that is some distance away.

This light-based type of wireless communication presents such a way to offer people in very rural places of the Earth with the internet. Using laser light could permit for high bandwidths, high data capacity, while also being cost-effective.

According to a new study shown by Facebook, rates of over 2GB per second can be acquired using such a technology.  The remarkably high data rates were accomplished using materials available on the market. But the team is now excited to get other groups involved in the development of particularly made materials to serve communications applications. If such materials would get to be established, they will provide data rates of more than 10GB per second, Facebook developers trust.


“We demonstrated the use of fluorescent optical fibers that absorb one color of light and emit another color (…) The optical fibers absorb light coming from any direction over a large area, and the emitted light travels inside the optical fiber, which funnels the light to a small, very fast photodetector,” said Tobias Tiecke, Communications Systems Scientist in Facebook’s Connectivity Lab.

Explaining their logic behind turning to the laser for data transmission, the researchers say in the paper: “While optical communications have become the de facto standard for high-throughput wired communication channels, microwave and millimeter wave carrier frequencies are still the standard for wireless links. However, the limited availability of spectrum restricts the data rates that can be achieved through these channels.”

The researcher team used fluorescent materials in its place of regular optics to assemble light and concentrated it onto a small photodetector. They combined the light collector, which had 126 so cm of the surface that can accumulate light from any direction over a large area, with current telecommunications technology to attain data rates of more than 2 gigabits-per-second (Gbps).

The new light collector uses plastic optical fibers containing organic dye molecules that absorb emit green light and blue light. This format alternates the classical optics and motion platform usually mandatory to point the light to the collection area.The high speeds are possible because of less than two nanoseconds lapse between the blue light absorption and the green light emission.

Facebook’s Connectivity Lab says the technology could be applied both outdoors and indoors. It could be used for transmission of high-definition video to mobile devices around the home and the same technology could be used outdoors to create low-cost communications links of a kilometer or more in length.

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