Rewarding IT innovation

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Inventors of a new plastic optical fibre were awarded the $10,000 Australian Computer Society Eureka Prize for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Innovation last night in Sydney.

Inventors of a new plastic optical fibre were awarded the $10,000 Australian Computer Society Eureka Prize for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Innovation last night in Sydney.

The researchers, based at the Optical Fibre Technology Centre at the University of Sydney, claimed the technology would "change lives".

Brian Sherman, president of the Australian Museum Trust said in a press release, "The Optical Fibre Technology Centre has created a technology that will transform short range communication and how we live."

By using plastic instead of glass to make optical fibres, the researchers reduced the cost of optical fibre, while keeping its high capacity -- it is able to carry the equivalent of over 150,000 phone conversations, over short distances -- in houses, offices and inside PCs, according to the release.

Maryanne Large, one of the inventors, said: "I expect to see these high capacity cables in homes, businesses, cars and in a new generation of powerful computers."

"Our plastic fibres have a unique holey structure that keeps the light on the straight and narrow, reducing signal loss and allowing each fibre to carry vast quantities of data. Our fibres are much cheaper to make and install than competing technologies," Large said in the release.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are "Australia's pre-eminent and most comprehensive national science awards", according to Frank Howarth, director of the Australian Museum.

Twenty-two awards, totalling $220,000 in prize money, were presented in last night's ceremony, hosted by Adam Spencer and Jennifer Byrne.

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