The speed record for data transmission over standard optical fiber shattered, and engineers have set a new record by beaming 55 “modes” of signals down a single-core optical fiber. They have managed to transmit at a data rate of 1.53 petabits per second (Pbit/s).
It’s been estimated that the current global internet speed is about 1 Pbit/s. Today’s broadband-capable networks can only hit a theoretical maximum of 1 Gbit/s. But with this fiber, internet speeds would be one thousand times faster than what we have today!
Technically, this is not the fastest data transmission rate ever. That honor belongs to a recent optical chip that clocked in at 1.84 petabits per second. However, that technology is still quite experimental and doesn’t have wide commercial use yet.
This new record is significant because it was achieved using an optical fiber with a diameter of 0.125mm. The diameter of the standard cladding (about 0.5 mm) is much larger, so this fiber should be compatible with most existing infrastructure. It also used a cladding with a single glass core to transmit data, but the light traveled through and modulated into 55 distinct data streams or modes that carry different information at the other end of the line. Those signals are then processed to decode the transmitted data.
This is the first demonstration of transmission using 55 modes, which allow for more efficient use of the light than their previous record. In May, the team managed to transmit data at 1.02 Pbit/s with just four modes in the form of four separate glass cores. They then spread out 801 wavelength channels across three different bands. Now, they’ve confined the bandwidth to just 184 wavelengths within one band, meaning a three-times improvement on what was possible before.
The team is working to improve the capacity of the transmission frequency by adding more bandwidth.
The research was submitted to and presented at the European Conference on Optical Communications.
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