Speed record shattered for data transmission over standard optical fiber

Engineers have set a new speed record for data transmission through a standard diameter optical fiber. By beaming 55 “modes” of signals down a single-core optical fiber, the team was able to transmit at a data rate of 1.53 petabits per second (Pbit/s).

To really understand just how fast that is, one petabit is equal to one million gigabits. Today’s home internet connections would be lucky to get a speed of one gigabit per second. In fact, it’s been estimated that the entire global internet bandwidth comes to just under 1 Pbit/s, meaning this fiber could handle all of it with room to spare.

Technically, it’s not the fastest data transmission rate ever – that honor belongs to a recent optical chip that clocked a staggering 1.84 petabits per second. But that technology is still quite experimental, and much further from being commercialized.

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This new record, however, is significant because it was achieved using an optical fiber with a standard cladding diameter of 0.125 mm. That means it should be largely compatible with existing infrastructure. Like most current optical fibers, the new system used a single glass core to transmit data, but the light is first modulated to form 55 distinct data streams, or modes, that carry different information. At the other end of the fiber, these signals are processed to decode the transmitted data.

This marks the first demonstration of transmission using 55 modes, allowing the engineers to make more efficient use of the light than their previous record, set in May this year. In that work, the team managed to transmit data at 1.02 Pbit/s, using just four modes in the form of four separate glass cores. Then, the transmission bandwidth was spread out over 801 wavelength channels across three bands – now, the bandwidth has been confined to just 184 wavelengths within one band, marking an improvement of three times the efficiency.

The team says the transmission capacity still has room for improvement too, by expanding the frequency band.

The research was presented at the European Conference on Optical Communication in September.

Source: NICT


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