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Researchers have set a new world record for petabits per second data transmission in Japan

Advances in fiber optic manufacturing

The world of communications took a giant leap forward when we moved from copper cables to fiber optics. Data transmission speeds have multiplied, and it is the very infrastructure that allows you to make high-quality video calls and watch movies in 4K resolution.

In the lab, however, researchers are working on advanced fiber optic cables that look like the one that runs to your house but can support multiple propagation paths inside. One such method is to use different transmission modes within a single core.

In December 2020, NICT researchers demonstrated petabit data transmission using 15 modes in a single core. However, for this transmission to work effectively, the signal processing must also work in a MIMO (multiple-input-multiple-output) mode. This means that signals are scrambled as they pass through the core and now have to be unscrambled by specialized equipment when received. This requires the use of dedicated ICs and the practical deployment of this technology is difficult until we develop the circuits on a large scale.

The other option is to transmit signals in a single mode but pack more cores into an optical fiber. The result is multiple data transmission paths to be sent over an optical fiber that looks no different from the outside but carries millions of bits of data inside. Since the manufacture of these cables is not very different from that of single-core cables, it is easier to bring them to a commercial reality.