Nobody doubts that optical fibres are an incredibly useful technology, particularly when it comes to transporting information over large distances with little attenuation. But in this 100 Second Science film, Jonathan Knight points out some of the limitations of the conventional optical fibres available on the market today.

An optics researcher at the University of Bath in the UK, Knight is developing new forms of optical fibre where the light is guided in air or vacuum, rather than being reflected off the walls of a glass tube within the inner part of the fibre. As he explains in the film, these fibres could be used in specific applications, such as medical surgery, that require light to be delivered at unusual wavelengths.

To find out more about the latest light-related research, take a look at the Physics World Focus on Optics & Photonics. This free-to-read issue includes a special feature about the vital role that optics and photonics play in the UK’s new £270m Quantum Technologies Programme.

  • With 2015 being the International Year of Light (IYL 2015) we have also produced a special edition of Physics World in March devoted to light and its varied applications in our lives. If you're a member of the Institute of Physics (IOP), you can get immediate access to the special issue about "light in our lives" with the digital edition of the magazine on your desktop via or on any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet via the Physics World app, available from the App Store and Google Play. If you're not yet in the IOP, you can join as an IOPimember for just £15, €20 or $25 a year to get full digital access to Physics World