In a bid to combat the rising problem of network security bottlenecks, researchers are hard at work developing the world's first optical firewall.
Under development by the EU-funded Wisdom project, the optical firewall promises to analyse data on fibre-optic networks at speeds of up to 40Gbps.
It will be able to carry out optical packet recognition, interrogation and manipulation of data streams, all at high speeds.
According to the researchers, security filtering processes are struggling to keep pace with the rapid expansion of high-speed fibre-optic networks that form the backbone of the internet. Even 3G networks utilise fibre-optic networks in as little as two to three hops.
And as demand for data-intensive services rises, the problem is likely to be exacerbated in the future.
The optical firewall boards could be ready for commercialisation in as little as five years.