Discussed first in the journal Nature Photonics, the device can focus light pulses in time, as opposed to space. By doing this it should be able to increase the amount of data sent in packets quite dramatically.
According to the BBC, a prototype device boosted the data rate of photon pulses by 27 times. It reported that "temporal lenses that can squash comparatively long pulses in time" were employed to jam an image of a standard 10GHz pulse into much a shorter one.
The introduction to the research explains, "We generate waveforms with 1.5 [picosecond] minimum features by compressing lower-bandwidth replicas created with a 10 GHz electro-optic modulator. In effect, our device allows for ultrahigh-speed direct 270 GHz modulation using relatively low speed devices and represents a new class of ultrafast waveform generators."
So why has no one thought of this before? The results of the University's experimentation in photonic data transfers even surprised Cornell University's Mark Foster, the person who came up with it.
"The most surprising thing for me was seeing it all work," he told the BBC.