Kansas University's Information and Telecommunication Technology Center celebrated the 10-year anniversary of a partnership with Sprint Corp. Monday by announcing the collaboration has produced its third patented discovery.
ITTC officials announced they had teamed with Sprint officials to patent a new technology that could significantly reduce the amount of power and space needed by operators of fiber-optic networks.
The technology is a new type of optical recovery clock that could be used by telephone, cable television and other users of fiber-optic technology. The advantage of the new technology is that the clock, unlike the current model, is entirely optical, meaning that it doesn't need electricity to operate. The new clock potentially can measure up to 80 wavelengths at once, while the current model measures only one at a time.
"You are potentially replacing 80 things with one thing, so we think it has pretty good potential to create excitement within the industry," said Victor Frost, ITTC director.
KU officials made the announcement at the center's Technology Day, which drew about 100 people Monday to ITTC's laboratories at Nichols Hall on KU's West Campus.
The event centered around the 10-year anniversary of a deal between ITTC and Overland Park-based Sprint. The deal allows ITTC officials to tap into Sprint's national fiber-optic network to conduct research.
Access to the network allows ITTC faculty to conduct research that they wouldn't be able to do in a normal laboratory environment, in particular allowing researchers to conduct tests on a national scale.
"Access to real fiber, professionally installed, and subject to real environmental forces is an incredibly valuable asset," said Chris Allen, co-director of the center's lightwave communications systems laboratory.
KU struck the deal with Sprint in 1993 after it worked with the company as one of six centers across the country that helped establish the foundation for Internet 2, a high-speed network designed for the research community and other high-demand Internet users.
Sprint officials said they decided to partner with KU because the research and teaching the faculty could accomplish by having access to the network could benefit the industry and the company.
"Sprint has had an exceptionally rewarding experience with KU," said Ben Vos, Sprint's director of technology planning and integration. "It has led to joint intellectual property development and an available hiring pool of talented optical engineers."
Frost said the partnership helped build KU's reputation as a hot spot for fiber-optic research. He said the university expected the partnership to continue to produce new discoveries, and perhaps develop technology that will make major changes in the fiber-optic industry.
"It provides KU and ITTC a definite competitive advantage," Frost said.