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Facebook Plans to Beam Internet to Backwaters With Lasers

By Technology Review

July 21, 2016

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Facebook Connectivity Lab researchers have developed an optical technology to help laser beams deliver fast Internet access to remote areas.

The researchers used fluorescent materials, instead of traditional optics, to collect light from data-carrying laser beams. The system features a series of plastic optical fibers, doped with organic dye molecules that absorb blue light and re-emit it as green light, which are shaped into a almost-sphere. When a laser signal hits the fibers, they emit green light within two nanoseconds. The light then travels down the length of the fibers and is eventually directed toward a small photodetector.

The system has been used so far to receive signals carrying data at rates of up to 2.1 Gbps, but the researchers say it could go faster if it were built to absorb infrared, rather than blue, light.

The Facebook Connectivity Lab also is working on the Telecom Infra Project, which will use open source cellular networks to deliver Internet access.

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