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Craving Bandwidth? Photonics Satisfies

Karen A. Newman, karen.newman@photonics.com

Oliver Twist’s plea for “more” was met with incredulity and outrage, but demands by the world’s computer and smartphone users for more bandwidth and greater speed are being greeted with vision, effort and innovation. Optical technologies may hold the key to winning the bandwidth race and to communicating in free space.

In our cover story, science writer Valerie C. Coffey says in no uncertain terms that technological developments in photonics are the future of mobile communications. The need for speed may soon be met by new types of optical fibers, longer-wavelength-transmission windows, thulium-doped fiber amplifiers and nanoscale light sources. And there may be a real upside to getting citizens connected: a faster-growing economy. Read the full article, “Photonics Accelerates Bandwidth Race,” beginning on page 34.

If it’s too crowded for you in the RF, contributing editor Hank Hogan says there is a little elbow room in free space, and optical communications is ready to connect us through air, space and water. In his article, “Data Demands Drive Free-Space Optics,” beginning on page 38, Hogan covers devices available today as well as visions for tomorrow, but one source cautions that technology may not be able to solve all the issues of free-space communications.

Meanwhile, the convergence of optical and wireless networks is one of several hot topics scheduled for the upcoming OFC-NFOEC meeting March 17-21 in Anaheim, Calif. Also to be considered are 100G/400G network design and optimization, 1-Tb (and beyond) optical networking, high-speed photonics integration for coherent detection and more. Among the keynote presenters at OFC-NFOEC will be ADVA Optical Networking CEO Brian Protiva, who will address how component and system providers can enter new markets and discover new revenue sources with optical communications technologies developed to meet the burgeoning bandwidth demand.

Moving beyond optical communications and deeper into this issue of Photonics Spectra, contributing editor Marie Freebody brings us a spot-on report on quantum dots’ move into practical use in her feature, “QDs Are Entering the Mainstream”; in “Thermoelectric Cooler Controller Design Made Simpler,” authors Gang Liu, Can Li and Nan Shi of Analog Technologies Inc. tell us that TECs have several advantages for temperature regulation, including high accuracy and stability, and fast response time; and Mona Clerico, Gerhard Holst and Sebastian Pless describe a new modular airborne camera system from the German Aerospace Center that allows better image analysis and comparison with existing maps in their feature, “Fast Camera Improves Surveillance on the Seas.”

In our March issue, we’ll bring you the latest news from SPIE’s Photonics West and the winners of the PRISM Awards. In the meantime, enjoy this issue, and keep on pushing for “more.”


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