Ultrathin optical fibre transmits 1.2 petabits per second

Tuesday, 27 November, 2018

Ultrathin optical fibre transmits 1.2 petabits per second

Scientists have developed an ultrathin optical fibre, as fine as a human hair, that can transmit 1.2 petabits of data per second — 12 million times quicker than the fastest nbn connection.

Internet data use is increasing exponentially, due to developments such as on-demand streaming and artificial intelligence, and fast approaching the limits of existing communications networks. Research into new types of optical fibre that can transmit ultralarge volumes of data have to date resulted in thick fibres that are vulnerable to damage from bending and pulling.

Now, scientists from Hokkaido University and electrical equipment manufacturer Fujikura have developed a 4-core, 3-mode fibre that is almost the same width as existing standard optical fibres but can transmit 12 times as much data per second. Its narrower diameter means it is less prone to damage and can easily be cabled and connected using existing equipment.

Combined with a coupler developed by the Macquarie University Photonics Research Centre, and a transmission system developed by Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), the fibre has undergone a dramatic improvement in speed that gives it the ability to smoothly accommodate traffic for big data and 5G services. It could therefore be used for transmitting data between data centres, metropolitan networks or undersea communications cables.

“The world’s insatiable demand for data means that we are approaching a ‘capacity crunch’ and need to find new ways to transport ever-larger volumes,” said Dr Simon Gross from the Macquarie Photonics Research Centre.

“This technology promises a solution to the bottleneck created by existing optical fibres. For the first time, we have created a realistic and usable-sized fibre which is resilient and can transport huge amounts of data.

“It also represents a big cost saving over installing the 12 standard optical fibres you would need to transport the same volume of data.”

Image caption: Multiplexer being tested with fibres coupled from the left and right.

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