New Polymer Cables Can Outdate Fiber Optic Speeds With The Integrity of Copper

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Fiber Optic

A team of researchers says we won’t have to wait around for fast and easy fiber optic, instead, There is brand new, and super fast, polymer cables are in development.

The plastic polymer cable is intended as a blend of both copper’s simplicity, which is needed for a wide range of uses, and fiber optic’s speed. It’s rated to 105 GB/s, and like fiber optic can be joined up for even faster speeds.

It’s being offered this month by Jack Holloway, who finished his Ph.D. at MIT and now works for US defense contractor Raytheon. The tech is clearly one the military has its eyes on, too, as the has also been partially funded by the Office of Naval Research and Naval Research Laboratory. It’s co-authored by Ruonan Han, an associate professor, and Georgios Dogiamis, a senior researcher at Intel, which also partially funded the research.

The demand for a new cable is due to the energy burned and the rate of data exchanged today, which is usually limited today due to the widespread use of copper cabling, Holloway says in a report on MIT (via IEEE Spectrum).

That’s an effect felt most in the datacentre, where huge bandwidth comes at an ever-increasing rate, but we’re also affected even down to our gaming PC. Copper cabling is the limitation on cable length, for example. Want longer cables with a steady signal? We’re going to need a solution to copper.

One response to the problem even today is fiber optic, which can be found in HDMI cables, but that comes with its limitations.

“There’s currently no way to efficiently generate, amplify, or detect photons in silicon,” Holloway says. “There are all kinds of expensive and complex integration schemes, but from an economics perspective, it’s not a great solution.”

A polymer cable, Holloway says, maybe a good alternative that solves both copper and fiber optic concerns.

“It’s far less costly than [copper or fiber optic] approaches, with significantly wider bandwidth and lower loss than conventional copper solutions,” Holloway explains in the MIT post. “So, high fives all around.”

Intel employee Dogiamis thinks the cable could “address the bandwidth challenges as we see this megatrend toward more and more data.”

It has to be seen if the polymer tech will make it out of the lab and into mass production, but from the agreements of the team that built it, we will be seeing the polymer cables in use in the near future.


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