A discovery by the Centre for Ultra-high Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems at Sydney University's School of Physics could radically speed up internet traffic.
A team of researchers built a photonic integrated circuit switching system that is etched on to glass and allows data from fibre optic cables to be processed much more quickly.
The team believes that it can boost data transfer rates by a factor of 60 for direct fibre links, but not those flowing via copper.
"The scratched glass we have developed is actually a photonic integrated circuit," said lead researcher Ben Eggleton at the University of Sydney.
"This circuit uses the 'scratch' as a guide or a switching path for information, kind of like when trains are switched from one track to another, except this switch takes only one picosecond to change tracks.
"This means that in one second the switch is turning on and off about a million times. We are talking about photonic technology that has terabit per second capacity."
The team used etching equipment similar to that used to manufacture silicon chips but instead inscribed the designs onto glass.
It was developed for just £5.8m, thanks to a grant from the Australian government, and the team is looking to license the technology.
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