Georgia Tech [this is one awesome place] says, "By using electromagnetic waves instead of electrical current for switching, researchers have operated an optical modulator at terahertz frequencies – an accomplishment that could one day facilitate data transmission rates in the trillions of bits per second.
To gain those higher rates, researchers at GT and at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the NASA Ames Research Center "used very high-frequency waves from a free-electron laser to control the modulator. These electromagnetic waves consist of an oscillating electric field and have the advantage of being able to move through free space without the need for circuitry."
This is some cool finding - and the work represents a key step toward a new generation of optical communication systems that would be as much as 100 times faster than current technology. For more information, visit physorg.com.