‘Slow’ light to speed up the net

A huge increase in the speed of the internet could be produced by slowing parts of it down, say researchers.

Applying the brakes could be the “metamaterials” that may make it possible to create invisibility cloaks.

The net’s speed limit comes about not in transporting information, but in routing it to its various destinations.

Metamaterials could replace the bulky and slow electronics that do the routing, paving the way for lightning fast speeds.

High-speed telecommunications routes include fibre-optic cables that span vast distances, carrying different streams of information in different channels—each with its own frequency of light.

As data nears the end of its journey, these frequencies must be separated and sent to their destinations.

The separation is accomplished with bulky equipment that spreads the closely spaced frequencies in the pulses into different detectors.

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