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Friday, 7 April, 2000, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Lasers point to faster internet
Internet Scotland
The research will focus on laser systems
A Scottish university has been awarded a 10.5m grant to look at ways in which laser technology can speed up the internet.

The grant to the School of Physics and Astronomy by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is the biggest award in St Andrews University's history.

The six-year project starts in June and is called "Ultrafast Photonics for Datacomms Above Terabit Speeds" (Updates).

Professor Alan Miller, head of the school, said: "The demands on the world's telecommunications systems are rapidly increasing, partly due to a huge expansion in internet traffic.

"With the continual growth in the use of the internet, delays in downloading data, images and videos can only worsen and, ultimately, we may find that existing technologies will no longer be able to support this growth, particularly with the rapid expansion of e-commerce."

The project will look at new devices that may replace some of the bottlenecks in systems.

St Andrews' School of Physics and Astronomy
St Andrews' School of Physics and Astronomy
The long-term goal is to undertake a revolutionary science-to-technology programme in modern opto-electronics, said Professor Miller.

This would contribute to the development of the next generation of ultra-high speed communications can be developed.

The team will focus on schemes which take advantage of digital optics, an area in which St Andrews has earned a global reputation.

Professor Wilson Sibbett, the research director, said the work would be centred around the exploitation of specialist laser systems pioneered at St Andrews.

"It will also build upon leading research in semi-conductor and polymer materials being carried out in the Schools of Physics and Chemistry.

"The university's expertise in these research fields has undoubtedly been crucial in attracting this funding," he added.

New laboratories

The research will be carried out within state-of-the-art laboratories on the campus.

A designated area will be developed to house additional laboratories, administration space and a conference suite.

The project will be carried out in collaboration with five partner universities - Bristol, Imperial College, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt and Sheffield.

Seven major industrial partners are also taking part - Agilent (formerly Hewlett-Packard), Marconi, Nortel Networks, JDS-Uniphase, Kymata, Sharp and Vitesse.

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