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Environmentally Stable Laser Emits Pure Light

Researchers have developed a compact laser that emits light with extreme spectral purity that doesn’t change in response to environmental conditions. The new potentially portable laser could benefit a host of scientific applications, improve clocks for global positioning (GPS) systems, advance the detection of gravitational waves in space and be useful for quantum computing.

Click through to read more about how the laser is able to emit pure light.

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Researchers from the MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, USA describe their new laser in Optica, The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research.

Even if a laser is designed to emit purely in one wavelength, changes in temperature and other environmental factors often introduce noise that causes the light emission to shift or broaden in frequency. The broadened spectral extent of this emission is known as the laser linewidth. The researchers used a new approach to create an optical fiber laser with a spectral linewidth narrower than ever achieved by a fiber or semiconductor laser. The same laser also provides a method to sense and correct for temperature changes as small as 85 nanoKelvin, or 85 billionths of a degree.

“Today, ultra-low expansion (ULE) cavity lasers exhibit the narrowest linewidth and highest performance, but they are bulky and very sensitive to environmental noise,” said William Loh, the paper’s first author. “Our goal is to replace ULE lasers with one that could be portable and isn’t sensitive to environmental noise.”

Achieving narrow linewidth

The researchers developed a laser based on a short loop (~2 meters) of optical fiber configured as a ring resonator. Fiber lasers are compact and rugged and tend to react relatively slowly to environmental changes. The researchers combined the advantages of fiber with a nonlinear optical effect known as Brillouin scattering to achieve a laser with a linewidth of just 20 hertz. For comparison, other fiber lasers can achieve linewidths between 1000 to 10,000 hertz, and off-the-shelf semiconductor lasers typically have a linewidth of around 1 million hertz.

To make the laser extremely stable in the face of long- and short-term environmental changes, the researchers developed a way to reference the laser signal against itself to sense temperature changes. Their method is highly sensitive compared to other approaches for measuring temperature and allows the calculation of a precise correction signal that can be used to bring the laser back to the emission wavelength of the original temperature.

“Temperature is an important contributor to laser noise,” said Loh. “A high-quality laser needs to not only have a narrow laser linewidth but also a way to keep that emission stable over the long term.”

Improving GPS

This new light source could be used to improve a new generation of optical atomic clocks used for GPS-enabled devices. GPS enables users to pinpoint their location on Earth by triangulating with the signals received from a network of satellites containing advanced atomic clocks. Each satellite provides a time stamp, and the system calculates a location based on the relative differences among those times.

“We think that atomic clocks based on our stable, narrow linewidth laser could be used to more precisely pinpoint the signal’s time of arrival, improving the location accuracy of today’s GPS systems,” said Loh. “The fact that our laser is compact means it could be used aboard satellites.”

The laser could also be beneficial for interferometers like the ones used by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) to detect gravitational waves coming from colliding black holes or collapsing stars. Ultrastable lasers are necessary for this application because laser noise prevents the interferometer from being able to detect the very small perturbations of a gravitational wave.

“There are efforts underway to use lasers in space to create longer interferometer arms for gravitational wave observation,” said Loh. “Due to its compact size and robustness, our laser might be a candidate for gravitational wave detection in space.”

The researchers say that although their new laser is robust, it is currently a benchtop system suitable for laboratory use. They are now working to develop smaller packaging for the laser and will incorporate smaller optical components to create a portable version that might be as small as a smartphone.

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Ruckus ICX 7850 Switch — Pay-as-you-grow

Ruckus Networks has unveiled its new ICX 7850 network switch: an edge-to-core solution for “the next decade of enterprise networking”. The stackable switch delivers high-density aggregation for 10GbE, 25GbE, 40GbE, 50GbE, and 100GbE using existing customer equipment, making it suitable for large, secure enterprise edge networks in education, government, and enterprise settings.

Click here to read about the switch’s pay-as-you-grow abilities.

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The “pay-as-you-go” design can enable enterprise-scale networks to keep pace with advances in wireless technologies – such as 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), IoT, and LTE – to accommodate continued multi-gigabit network growth. 

Siva Valliappan, VP of wired products of Ruckus Networks, said: “The ever-increasing need for Wi-Fi connectivity is taxing network cores, but the solution to keeping up with the proliferation of devices and advances in wireless technology does not need to be complex or expensive. The Ruckus ICX 7850 switch simplifies multi-gigabit network upgrades and reduces the total cost for enterprises through its ability to scale quickly and linearly to address current and future network demands.”

The switch can scale up to 12 in a stack, which rivals the density of traditional chassis-based data centre and enterprise switches. The hitless stack failover, multi-chassis trunking, and in-service software upgrades reduce downtime significantly. The available SmartZone network controller enables configuration, monitoring, and troubleshooting for the entire Ruckus ICX switch portfolio and wireless access point network. This highly scalable approach is easier to manage with reduced power and cooling requirements and a lower total cost of ownership.

Security and Encryption
In 2019, network security at a hardware level is vital, and this switch supports the latest security standards and encryption technologies. ICX switches have been deployed in the U.S. federal government for over two decades, and comply with federal certifications, including FIPS, Common Criteria, CSfC, and JITC. It also supports Media Access Control Security (MACsec), a Layer 2 security technology, based on symmetric cryptographic keys, to provide point-to-point security on Ethernet links between nodes.

Many organisations, particularly school districts with older, existing networks that have OM1 or OM2 fibre optic cables require Long Reach Multimode (LRM) optics to achieve the 10 Gbps connections needed for today’s bandwidth requirements. The ICX 7850 provides investment protection and an upgrade path for customers with older fibre infrastructure by providing support for LRM optics.

The switch is now available globally.

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Nokia launches off-the-shelf IoT packages

In advance of Mobile World Congress, Nokia has launched a range of off-the-shelf Internet of Things (IoT) packages to help operators win new business in IoT markets. In addition to enabling operators to achieve a faster time to market, the packages simplify the set-up and operations of enterprise IoT services.

Click through to read about how Nokia is set to help farmers change agriculture.

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The platform is built on the Nokia Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) infrastructure, which provides global IoT connectivity and services support. WING’s applications include IoT sensors, user applications, and business models suited to specific sectors. Its managed service approach also offers a “pay-as-you-grow” business model, giving operators the flexibility to quickly scale up IoT services as required.

Market-ready solutions are available on the platform to help reduce the challenges facing IoT operators. These include the need for specialised expertise, the complexities of combining fragmented IoT connectivity infrastructure, and the risk and effort of setting up and working with multiple service providers globally. 

The four new solutions announced this week by Nokia include:

  • Smart Agriculture as-a-Service: Sensors capture environmental, soil, and crop data, which is analysed to provide insights that help farmers manage crops more effectively, potentially saving costs on irrigation, pesticides, and fertilisers.
  • Livestock Management-as-a-Service: Tracking devices and biosensors monitor animal health to provide ranchers with early alerts when abnormalities are detected, protecting valuable livestock and improving yields.
  • Logistics as-a-Service: IoT sensors enable tracking of the global movement and condition of goods through the supply chain to help enterprises quickly identify incidents and even predict future events to optimize delivery and logistics process efficiency.
  • Asset Management-as-a-Service: Connecting products anywhere in the world enables their status and performance to be monitored centrally, helping enterprises provide a better service to their business and consumer customers.

Nokia is trialing Agriculture as-a-Service with an African operator and working with leading services and consulting firm on Asset Management-as-a-Service to help them offer more advanced services.

Ankur Bhan, global head of WING Business at Nokia, said: “The IoT is a growing opportunity for operators to win new enterprise customers and significant additional revenue in a diverse range of vertical markets. With minimal upfront investment, an operator can now quickly get a service to market and generate IoT revenues. We expect these vertical solutions to encourage more operators to connect to Nokia WING, expanding its global footprint and broadening the range of capabilities and services that will become available. We already have several more vertically-focused as-a-Service packages in the development pipeline.”

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