So how do you cram more erbium atoms into a cable? You make the cable itself out of erbium. That's easier said than done, and the breakthrough here is the erbium compound that can be produced in high quality, single-crystal form. Using the compound, the researchers can create objects with 1,000 times more erbium atoms in them than they could when they were simply doping other materials with erbium. And while that doesn't translate directly into cables or silicon chips that are 1,000-times faster, it does translate into remarkable improvements in speed and efficiency, the researchers say.