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Boffins breaks data transmission record • The Register

European scientists claim to have achieved a data transmission speed of 1.8 petabits per second, all with a single laser and an optical chip.

For those unsure, 1.8 Mbps is a lot. As in, more than the total volume of global internet traffic sent every second, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) said in a statement.

The team attributes this breakthrough to the characteristics of the frequency comb generated on its chip, even though it was not designed for this purpose.

This is not the first time that a frequency comb has been used to help improve the transmission of optical information through a fiber. A group of researchers from the University of California, San Diego set a particularly long data transmission record in 2015, using the technique to avoid distortion.

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The comb’s “teeth” are all mounted at fixed frequency distances from their neighbors, and when struck by infrared laser light, they create a rainbow of colors, DTU said. Each color corresponds to a different frequency, each of which can be isolated, used to print data, reassembled and transmitted through an optical fiber.

Victor Torres-Company, a professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and head of research for the project, said the characteristics of the frequency comb generated in a silicon nitride chip he developed made it perfectly suitable for use in fiber optic communications, but that “some of the characteristic parameters were achieved by coincidence and not by design.”

Torres-Company said his team has since reverse-engineered the process to optimize fiber optic applications “with high reproducibility.” No mention was made of what the chip was originally used for, but the journal disclosures list Torres-Company and another researcher as co-founders of a startup offering nitride prototyping services. silicon, so it can come from a number of other projects.

In this case, the transmission managed to achieve 1.84 Pbps over 7.9 km (4.9 miles) of fiber line, the team claims. A previous internet speed record set in Japan last year reached a meager 319 Tbps, less than a third of the speed of the DTU experience.

In the case of the Japanese project, the group used existing infrastructure and a process called wavelength division multiplexing to get multiple wavelengths of data transmitted over a single fiber.

Nor can the European team touch the transmission distance of the Japanese experiment, which sent its 319 Tbps data stream over 3,001 km (1,864 miles), but with booster stations every 70 km to boost the signal.

Professor Leif Katsuo Oxenløwe of DTU, who worked on the experiment, said the comb method still has some advantages, such as the fact that 1.8 Pbps is only a fraction of the system’s potential according to their simulations of modelization.

“Our calculations show that with the single chip made by Chalmers University of Technology and a single laser, we will be able to transmit up to 100 Pbps,” Oxenløwe said. The DTU solution is easily scalable, Oxenløwe said, both by creating additional frequencies and by adding additional copies of the comb to use as parallel data sources.

As well as having enormous scalability, Oxenløwe said the system could also significantly reduce the energy footprint of the internet, as a single laser would be needed instead of “hundreds of thousands of lasers located in internet hubs and data centers, all of which consume electricity and produce heat.”

“We have the opportunity to help achieve an internet that leaves a smaller climate footprint,” Oxenløwe said, but also admitted there was work ahead of the team before a similar system could. be used in the real world.

The team is working on integrating components into the optical chip to make the whole system more efficient, but hasn’t specified anything beyond that. We’ve reached out to the team to find out a bit more, particularly about when we can expect that bandwidth at home, and we’ll update this story if we hear anything. ®