Innovations in Optical Fibre

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A Culture of Innovation

Drs. Maurer, Keck, Schultz Revolutionized Global Telecommunications

Three Visionaries

Over forty years ago, Corning scientists Drs. Robert Maurer, Peter Schultz, and Donald Keck were brought together to develop a highly pure optical glass that could effectively transmit light signals over long distances – a feat that had never before been achieved. Little did they know they would revolutionise the global telecommunications industry.

In the mid-1960s, it became clear to the researchers at Corning and to the larger telecommunications industry that the existing copper wire infrastructure used to transfer data and voice would not have enough bandwidth for the projected traffic of the future. The race to find a solution was on.

During this time period, members of the British Post Office came to our company seeking assistance in creating pure glass fibre optics. Their design required a single-mode fibre (100 micron diameter with a 0.75 micron core) having a total attenuation of about 20 dB/km. The very best bulk optical glasses of the day had attenuations of around 1,000 dB/km. This meant Maurer, Schultz, and Keck had to see an improvement in transparency of 1,098 in order to reach the 20 dB/km goal. It seemed impossible, but they did it, and their technological breakthrough forever changed the world.

Today, optical fibre continues to enable the world of connectivity in which we live. Services delivered over broadband have become a critical component of daily life, with access, speed, and reliable connectivity as features we all expect. Our revolutionary discovery and our ongoing optical fibre product innovations make this all possible.

In 2000, Drs. Maurer, Schultz, and Keck were awarded the National Medal of Technology for their life-changing innovation. This is the highest honor granted by the President of the United States to America’s leading inventors and innovators that have made lasting contributions to enhancing America’s competiveness and standard of living. Corning scientists have received this prestigious award four times, an example of our dedication to innovation and discovery.

Breakthroughs in Optical Fibre Technology Spur the Information Age

Breakthroughs in Optical Fibre

An amazing confluence of technological breakthroughs in the early 1970s fueled the rapid acceptance of optical fiber – the semiconductor laser, the microprocessor, and the initial “vision” of a global communications network.

Some view this as the beginning of the “Information Age,” comparing today’s social revolution of “information accessibility” to last century’s industrial revolution, in terms of scope and impact.

Optical fiber-enabled communications networks have evolved over time. In the early 1980s, optical fiber was being installed primarily by telephone companies and the benefits were evident. Optical fiber could carry vast amounts of information and light signals over long distances - many times that of traditional copper. 

By the early 1990s the fibre revolution was reshaping the way the world communicated. Improved fibres, better electronics, and the advent of optical components meant improved signal quality and greater efficiency. It can be said that the "Information Age" was materializing over optical fibre.

Today, the convergence of telecommunications networks and the access to those networks, through a growing array of devices by more and more people, is acting as the medium through which knowledge, culture, and information are being distributed in a more uniform way.

How Fibre Changed The World

The Future of Fibre Shines Bright

The Future of Fibre

Today’s generation is connected unlike any other. Currently more than 2 billion kilometers of optical fibre is deployed around the world, linking people, businesses, communities, countries, and continents together. 

Twenty years ago, we could only pick up the phone to connect with someone in real time. Today, we have the technology to instantly and globally share voice, data, and video. In the last 10 years, the application and use of broadband technology, enabled by optical fibre, has exploded, driven by national communications' priorities and ever-growing consumer demand.

We have come to expect triple-play services, with voice, video, and data all provided to us by a single connection. Applications such as file-sharing, on-line gaming, video on demand, and HDTV all require bandwidth capacity that is pushing the limits of traditional access transmission technologies such as digital subscriber lines (DSL), cable, and wireless.

Optical fibre offers almost limitless bandwidth capabilities and is becoming increasingly economical. Optical fibre has the capacity to grow and adapt to future consumer demands for voice, data, and video capability. We have led and will continue to lead the development and delivery of the latest generation of optical fibre, fueling the global expansion of broadband connectivity for all consumer and business applications.