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Channeling light in the deep sea

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8:48pm, September 14, 2003

A genus of sea sponges grows its own light-conducting fibers that are remarkably similar to commercial-grade optical fibers–and in some ways better. A team of U.S. and Israeli researchers that recently studied several Euplectella species says the primitive creatures' fibers might serve as a model for improved telecommunications fiber optics.

In the Aug. 21 Nature, Joanna Aizenberg of Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., and her colleagues report that the sponges' fibers, called spicules, have glass cores infused with sodium ions that enhance the fibers' optical properties.

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