A person's finger touching the end of a bundle of illuminated fiber optic cables

Laying the groundwork for the internet

In 1997, when broadband communications and the “World Wide Web” were both in their infancy, two UC Davis professors and a graduate student came up with a better way to route data in fiber optic networks. The “wavelength selective switch,” or WSS, uses two micro-mirror arrays, consisting of many miniscule mirrors, that can separate the input optical beams by wavelength and then redirect the signals. Their patented technology became a critical component for data transmission in multi-wavelength fiber optic communication systems around the globe, bringing internet and phone traffic to millions of people.

More from UC Davis