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Plastic optical cable promises cheaper, easy alternative to glass

Japanese researchers beat error problem that had plagued the material

The new plastic fibers reflect light forward to cut down on noise. (Photo courtesy of Prof. Yasuhiro Koike)

TOKYO -- A research team at Japan's Keio University has developed plastic optical fibers that can send information with few or no errors, with potential applications from data centers to self-driving cars.

Fiber-optic cables now used for high-speed data transmission are typically made with glass -- expensive, fragile and difficult to work with. There have been high hopes for plastic as an alternative, but plastic cables generate more error-causing noise that can delay transmission and use more energy.

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