Infrastructure for Networked Society of Big Data Age
Development of world-record-breaking ultra-low-loss optical fiber
Since communications networks have come into widespread use, various things are connected to networks in the form of cloud computing, including automobiles and industrial equipment, as well as smartphones. This is the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT produces big data. New services emerging from the use of big data are expected to improve the quality of our life and productivity. In the era of big data, high-capacity and high-reliability networks are increasingly important as infrastructure. The volume of global network traffic in 2020 is predicted to increase to more than 200% of the 2016 level. Meanwhile, available energy and space are limited. Hence, the industry has been facing the need to improve the performance of optical fibers that carry information. Since the 1980s, Sumitomo Electric has been a world leader in the development and commercialization of optical fiber technology, including low-loss transmission. Our latest development is an optical fiber that breaks the world record for transmission loss* by a large margin. This optical fiber reduces transmission loss to 0.1419 dB/km at the lowest-loss wavelength of 1560 nm, and to 0.1424 dB/km at the prevalently used communication wavelength of 1550 nm. Both of these are world-record-breaking figures. Low optical signal loss translates to increases in transmission capacity and an extended transmission distance. Take, for example, the application of the optical fiber to submarine cables crossing the Pacific. The results include reduced construction and energy costs made possible by using a reduced number of repeaters. Sumitomo Electric will work on the development of ultra-low-loss optical fiber products for the further evolution of communications networks.
* Transmission loss: The rate of decrease in optical energy. When light is passed through an optical fiber, its optical energy decreases due to partial scattering and absorption. With a lower transmission loss, optical signals can be transmitted over a longer distance.