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Hoechst AG and Codenoll Technology Corp claim a major breakthrough in fibre optic technology with the demonstration at the Productronica ’87 show in Munich this week of a local area network using plastic rather than glass optical fibre. Chemical giant Hoechst developed the fibre technologies to make data communications over plastic links possible, and the partners claim that key benefits of polymer over glass include the fact that the latter will be much lower in cost to make and process than either glass or copper, are extremely easy to handle, can be connected in seconds using only a razor blade. They are also very transparent over a wide range of wavelengths of light, have high strength and are resistant to heat, humidity and numerous chemicals, and the partners see new applications in the car, marine and aerospace industries. The network was a standard 10Mbps IEEE 802.3 Ethernet. Codenoll, in which Hoechst Celanese Corp holds an equity position, made two significant developments for the system: a polymer optical star coupler for dividing the signal among several different computers, and a sensitive, high speed optical receiver that detects low-power optical signals at just 10 nanoWatts at 10Mbps. Using the Hoechst fibre, Codenoll integrated the components into a network similar to and compatible with Codenoll’s glass-based Codenet Ethernet. Based in Yonkers, New York, Codenoll Technology Corp claims it has over 2,000 optical local networks using glass fibre installed worldwide.

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