AUSTRALIA: Internet speeds up to 100 times faster

It has taken four years to develop but now, thanks to a small scratch on a piece of glass, University of Sydney scientists say the internet is set to become up to 100 times faster than current networks. The scratch will mean almost instantaneous, error free and unlimited access to the internet anywhere in the world.

The announcement was made at a conference organised by Sydney's Centre for Ultra-high bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems.

"This is a critical building block and a fundamental advance on what is already out there. We are talking about networks that are potentially up to 100 times faster without costing the consumer any more," said Australian Federation Fellow Professor Ben Eggleton.

Eggleton, director of the centre based within the school of physics at Sydney, said his team of researchers had beaten their deadline by a year. Up until now, information had been moving at a slow rate but optical fibres had a huge capacity to deliver more.

"The scratched glass we've developed is actually a photonic integrated circuit," he said. "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 one million times. We are talking about photonic technology that has terabit per second capacity."

An initial demonstration proved it was possible to achieve speeds 60 times faster than current Australian networks. With further development, the process is expected to produce even faster results.

"Currently we use electronics for our switching and that has been OK but as we move toward a more tech-savvy future there is a demand for instant web gratification," Eggleton said. "Photonic technology delivers what's needed and, more importantly, what's wanted."

The research was based on a fruitful scientific collaboration between research teams at Sydney and the Australian National University, with the Technical University of Denmark, and supported with Australian Research Council funding.