A light twist

A new spin on fiber optics packs hefty data into a small space

By Stephen Ornes, 18:04 PM July 10, 2013

Computers see data as strings of 1s and 0s. Those numbers can be encoded in light beams that travel through fibers. Researchers recently designed a new fiber that can carry even more data when light beams are given a little twist. Credit: Courtesy of David Steinvurzel; background image © INMAGINE Limited

Modern life depends on data that moves quickly over large distances, whether we’re on mobile phones or online. But too much data can slow the flow. That’s why engineers have been developing clever ways to deliver big data at fast speeds. And a new type of fiber-optic cable may do just that.

It moves multiple streams of data at high speeds without losing information, engineers reported in the June 28 issue of Science.

“It’s like having more fibers without actually laying more fibers,” And...

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