A rare look inside the world’s biggest optical-fiber plant.
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.