Communications Breakthrough: Amplifying Light with Air

Researchers at EPFL  have developed a technology to amplify light inside the latest hollow-core optical fibers, in a breakthrough that is promising for the future of communications. Conventional optical fibers usually have a solid glass core, so there is no air inside. Light can travel along the fibers but loses half of its intensity after 15 kilometers. The new approach is based on new hollow-core optical fibers that are filled with either air or gas. “The air means there’s less attenuation, so the light can travel over a longer distance. That’s a real advantage,” says EPFL researcher Luc Thévenaz. The researchers added pressure to the air in the fiber to give us some controlled resistance, making the light considerably more powerful.