Low-loss optical fibers created by researchers at Corning Glass Works in 1970 are what made possible the Internet as we know it. These ultrathin solid glass structures transmit data in the form of light pulses, carrying everything from phone calls to streaming video. Corning remains the world’s largest manufacturer of optical fiber. The company gave Technology Review rare access to its biggest plant, in Wilmington, North Carolina, which makes fibers for long- and short-distance transmission.
Katherine BourzacI’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco, California, and a contributing editor at MIT Technology Review, where I was previously on staff as materials science editor. I write about materials science, computing, and medicine. My favorite nanomaterial is carbon nanotubes and my favorite quasiparticle is the plasmon. I serve on the board of the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. I graduated from MIT’s science writing program in 2004.