For license: Process for 1.02 index of refraction fiber

Jim Bell, a gentleman with no background in fiber optics – or any kind of optics, for that matter – asserts he has unlocked the secret of why silica’s index of refraction is greater than 1. Bell says this discovery means he has a way to improve the light-carrying efficiency of silica-based fiber to 98% of the speed of light in a vacuum from the current 68%. His primary challenge: Getting a fiber manufacturer to listen to him.

Jim Bell, a gentleman with no background in fiber optics – or any kind of optics, for that matter – asserts he has unlocked the secret of why silica’s index of refraction is greater than 1. Bell says this discovery means he has a way to improve the light-carrying efficiency of silica-based fiber to 98% of the speed of light in a vacuum from the current 68%. His primary challenge: Getting a fiber manufacturer to listen to him.

Bell is CEO of the newly created material sciences company Daltonium LLC. He says his process would enable silica-based fiber with an index of refraction around 1.02. Bell was reluctant to share details of the process in an interview with Lightwave because his patent application is still wending its way through official channels. However, he did drop a few hints. For example, he believes fiber makers could readily apply his process with minor modifications to existing equipment and practices, including tweaks of the silicon tetrachloride that is a common precursor in fiber manufacture. As a result, he believes a fiber manufacturer could have a production line using his process up and running in a matter of months.

If Bell’s process is sound, fiber with an index of refraction in the area of 1.02 would have significant benefits. For example, such fiber would provide extremely low latency. By way of example, Bell speculates that if Hibernia Atlantic used fiber enabled via his process in its planned Hibernia Project Express transatlantic cable, the one-way latency on the route would decline by about 9 msec.

Daltonium-enabled fiber also would exhibit extremely low chromatic dispersion characteristics. This level of performance would decrease the need for dispersion compensation on metro and long-haul fiber links. It might also call into question the need for phase-based modulation formats and coherent detection for transmission rates of 100 Gbps and greater.

That’s if the process works. Bell says mathematical models show his ideas are sound. However, he admits that he hasn’t been able to make fiber with his process – “We don’t have a fiber furnace,” he says of his two-person startup company – so he doesn’t have something skeptics can test.

And Bell has already seen plenty of skepticism. “They’re reacting sort of like, well, how it’s perfectly predictable they’d react,” he says of most of the fiber manufacturers with which he’s been in touch. “How in the world could something like that exist? And, moreover, if it could possibly exist, why didn’t we find it or why didn’t one of our competitors find it? Why are we hearing about this from someone who has never been in the fiber business before?”

Certainly Bell’s background invites such questions. While he has a degree in chemistry, his employment background is primarily in electronic design. And he was between jobs when he made his discovery – which, he points out, means the new process is indeed his to license.

Nevertheless, Bell reports that he’s beginning to see signs of interest from more than one fiber manufacturer. He’s looking forward to the opportunity to make his case in person.

“In a sense, those are quite legitimate concerns,” he admits of the questions he’s likely to face. “But sometimes inventions come from the least expected location and are done by the least expected person. And this is one of those times.”



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