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Tag Archive: fiber optics

  1. Fiber Optic Internal Body Imaging Goes 3D

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    Researchers at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) discovered an exciting new method that could make it possible to use 3D microscopy to view hard-to-reach areas of the human body. This method uses fiber optic bundles to miniaturize a type of 3D imaging called “light field imaging.”  Taken to extreme new levels, this imaging could make in-body use possible.

     

    This method could find widespread use in diagnostic procedures called optical biopsies. In these biopsies, suspicious body tissue is investigated using medical endoscopic procedures.

     

    Until now, light field imaging could be performed only with bulky hardware such as camera arrays or modified consumer cameras. Instead of trying to shrink existing equipment, the researchers realized that fiber optic bundles already used routinely in microendoscopy were actually suitable light field imaging devices.

     

    Fiber optic bundles are groups of tens of thousands of microscopic optical fibers. Each fiber in the bundle acts like a pixel in a camera. The result produced is a 2D image that is transmitted through the fiber bundle.

     

    Along with recording a 2D picture, light field imaging systems also measure the incoming angles of all light rays in the picture. With this information, doctors can map the picture in stereo 3D in the same way that humans perceive depth. According to the researchers, the primary challenge will be how to record this angular light ray dimension that is often hard to capture.

     

    According to Dr. Antony Orth, project lead and Research Fellow at the RMIT University node of the CNBP, “The key observation we made is that light ray orientation information is actually transmitted by the fiber optic bundles to the microendoscope. You just need to know what to look for and how to decode it.”

     

    Dr. Orth believes that, given the right mathematical framework, researchers can decode the patterns, transform them into a light field, and do incredible things such as refocusing, depth mapping and visualizing the image in stereo 3D. He believes that this light field technology could potentially bring an entirely new depth dimension into optical biopsies. This capability would let doctors examine suspect tissue without removing a sample from the patient.

     

    The research group is meeting with physicians to discuss how to test this technique in medical clinics and to also identify the medical procedures most likely to benefit from 3D visualization in the microscale.

     

     

  2. Could “Twisted” Fiber Optics Create a 100 Times Faster Internet?

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    Researchers at Australia’s RMIT University recently discovered a new fiber optic breakthrough that could lead to 100 times faster internet speeds. This new development detects light that has been twisted into a spiral.

     

    According to research in Nature Communications, developers could upgrade existing fiber optic networks and boost efficiency using this discovery.

     

    HOW IT WORKS

    Fiber optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information. However, users can only store that data based on the color of the light and whether the light wave is horizontal or vertical.

     

    The RMIT researchers twisted light into a spiral and created a third dimension for light to carry information – the level of orbital angular momentum, or spin. Dr. Min Gu of RMIT compared it to the double helix spiral of DNA. According to Dr. Gu,  a greater amount of angular momentum allows an optical fiber to carry a larger amount of information.

     

    Researchers have used “twisted light” approaches and orbital angular momentum before. They encoded a greater amount of data in various degrees of twist using these “twisted” methods. In fact, researchers at Boston University and the University of Southern California developed an optical fiber that could twist light. However, the teams used detectors as large as “the size of a dining table.” The RMIT researchers created a reasonably-sized detector that reads the information it holds. The new detector is the width of a human hair.

     

    WHAT IT CAN DO

    Providers could upgrade networks around the globe with this new fiber optic technology. These companies include the NBN Co. NBN is deploying Australia’s national broadband network. The company expects to complete this network by 2020.

     

    NBN is “prepared for future demand.” However, they have also stated that fiber optic advances such as this one by RMIT need further testing and acceptance before being deployed. A spokesperson commented, “Laboratories continually test new communications technologies for many years before they are commercialized. Equipment manufacturers and network operators must accept these new methods on a widespread scale before they are ready to be deployed in the field.”