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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Researcher gets caught in the Web

The Internet could be faster, more reliable and use less energy.

The UA, along with eight other universities, is doing research using optics to make this possible.

“We are not taking advantage of the full potential of the Internet,” said Nasser Peyghambarian, a professor of optical sciences and director of the Center for Integrated Access Networks.

The Internet is set up with an electrical node on either end of the system with fiber optics running in between, Peyghambarian said. Though a computer’s download speeds may be a few megabits per second, the Internet itself is actually much faster, potentially by hundreds of gigabits per second.

Optics, though, is much faster than electronics, so that is what the research team is using to try and increase Internet speeds, and with a lower rate of energy consumption.

Peyghambarian said that, by using optics instead of electronic nodes at the ends of the equation, the electrical efficiency of a connection would rise by a factor of two. It is hard to tell exactly how much energy each kind of module will use because each individual one can vary, he said.

Peyghambarian coordinates all nine universities working on the project. The goal of the center is to solve the data crisis by bringing optoelectronic technology, devices that source, detect and control light, to its full potential. According to its website, “The vision of CIAN is to create transformative technologies for optical access networks where virtually any application requiring any resource can be seamlessly and efficiently aggregated and interfaced with existing and future core networks in a cost-effective manner.”

The project is now in its fourth year of a five-year, $18.5 million contract from the National Science Foundation. Peyghambarian said the project will be given another five years and another grant that will put the total cost at about $40 million.

Massoud Karbassian, a research associate in the College of Optical Sciences, explained exactly what was going on in the test lab at the UA, which hosts research by all nine universities.

“We’re dealing with the problem meeting electronics with optics,” he said. He explained that what they can currently do is put a computer chip into a device, shoot a laser through it, and transmit the information on the chip over a small-scale Internet model in the test lab.

Peyghambarian said the Internet is a device that has changed people’s lives since its existence and that the research lab is doing everything it can do to make it better.

Psychology freshman Travis Delly said he has problems with the Internet in his dorm room in Hopi Lodge Residence Hall. He said sometimes the Internet will randomly disconnect while playing video games.

“I think this is a very worthwhile project,” Delly said, “because without Internet, how are we going to get our work done?”

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