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International Team Develops Optical Packet Router

Laser beam pointed at camera (Nayu Kim)Researchers from Spain, the Netherlands, and Canada have developed an optical router chip, capable of operating up to 100 times faster than currently available chips. The router, that incorporates the principle of directing packets of data, are described in the latest issue of the journal Optics Express.

The new chip is capable of routing optical packets, a likely feature of future optical routers. According to team leader José Capmany at the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain, it operates at a speed 100 times greater than current optical chips. The increased routing and processing speeds mean there is less need to retain the packet in the router, which helps optimize the communication process.

The chip, also developed at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and McGill University in Montreal, Canada, has all routing functions on a single chip. This level of integration, according to the researchers, improves the routing performance over current technologies that require multiple components to carry out the same functions.

However, the optical router is made using current chip-making processes. Thus, it can be manufactured on today’s production lines, making the router commercially more attractive in the marketplace.

Current optical networks make direct point-to-point connections, much like analog voice telephone calls, which require reserving the line while the call is live, even if no information is transmitted. The new optical router, however, breaks up the transmitted data into packets, with identifiers on the packets. The packets can be transmitted over any lines in the network, using the identifiers in the packets to reassemble the data by the receiver.

The optical routing technology is being commercialized by VLC Photonics SL, a spin-off company from Universitat Politècnica de València.

Read more: Engineers Set New Laser Data Transmission Speed Record

Photo:  Nayu Kim/Flickr

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