A research team has developed a light beam device that could lead to faster internet, clearer images of space and more detailed medical imaging.

University of Queensland researcher and optical engineer Dr Joel Carpenter worked with Nokia Bell Labs to build the device to tackle the challenge of splitting light into the shapes it is made up of, known as modes.

"Splitting a beam of light into colours is easy because nature gives you that one for free - think of rainbows or when light shines through glass at an angle," Dr Carpenter said.

"The mode sorter splits a light beam into modes, instead of pixels like a camera would, and this results in higher-quality imaging and communication.

A diagram showing how the device works"Our device performs a basic operation in physics, so it seemed a little strange to us that something like this did not already exist, as this topic had been investigated around the world for about 25 years."

Study co-author Nicolas Fontaine of Nokia Bell Labs said the device could bring a number of benefits.

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