Infrared Lasers: The Successor to Fibre Optics?

Infrared Laser Scanner For many years, we come across infrared lasers at our local superstore. Recent reports have looked their use for high speed data access. Image by Hurricane Hank (via Shutterstock).

How infrared lasers could take over from fibre optic for television and data communications

Cast your mind to 1987. Back then, Beverley’s branch of Presto (near the Wednesday Market square) and Hull’s Grandways stores had something more new-fangled than the pricing guns of old. That of barcode scanners that used infrared lasers. According to a report from Network World, the same technology that has scanned your baked beans for the last 40 years could be used elsewhere: cable television and data communications.

With the limitations of fibre optic cables starting to arise, it is claimed that the ‘tangled Christmas tree’ scenario could make fibre optics unsustainable. For the last twenty years, fibre optic cables have given us cable TV. Back then, it was a step up from the coaxial system that Rediffusion offered in Hull from 1928.

It is claimed that infrared lasers offer the same consistency of their fibre optic brethren. In the same report, it states how they take up less server space and lack interference issues. The latter a characteristic of radio frequency based systems. What's more, infrared lasers aren’t restricted by space issues in the same way as fibre optics and RJ45 cables.

Could they be used for television? Could they make fibre optic cables obsolete? Researchers say the use of laser beams could allow for speeds of 10 Gbps. The use of different colours and multiplexed signals within the beam could make for an efficient system. Perhaps in future years, we could be watching the Hull Derby in Super League XXXIII, whilst downloading the twentieth episode of the Star Wars franchise. Without freezing and crashing.

Mertech Electrical, 20 March 2017.


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