- Researchers develop a new optical cable that can transmit data at the rate of one petabit (1000 terabits) per second.
- The fiber is as fine as a human hair and less prone to damage.
Fiber optic cables have revolutionized the network communication ever since their inception about 4 decades ago. These cables use thin strands of glass to transmit data encoded into light. Since the total internal reflection prevents light from escaping through the sides of the cable, it can have a much higher rate of transmission as compared to using electrical signals.
Today, optical fibers are used in internet, cable television, computer networking, telephone, automotive industry, mechanical inspections, dentistry and surgery, military and space applications. Researchers are always seeking to achieve a high data rate and cover a long distance simultaneously.
With the accelerating spread of services like video content and social networking, internet traffic is increasing at an exponential rate. The backbone of this infrastructure i.e bandwidth of optical fiber is also increasing annually. However, there is a certain limit to the increase in speed and bandwidth that can be obtained with standard fiber optics. We may reach this limit in the next 10 years.
Scientists are working on a new transmission system that can overcome such limitations. While the existing optical fibers use a single mode of transmission within a strand of quartz glass, the new design relies on multi-mode fiber for transmitting data with higher spatial multiplexing.
In 2012, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) company demonstrated the capabilities of multicore fibers: they achieved data transmission rate of 1 petabit per second over a single 12-core optical fiber of 52 kilometers.
Recently, a team of scientists at Macquarie University Photonics Research Centre developed an optical fiber that successfully transmitted over 1 petabit (1000 terabits) of data per second. The fiber is jointly developed by Fujikura Ltd and Hokkaido University and the transmission system is built by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Japan.
Reference: Macquarie University
This 4-core 3-mode fiber can transmit 12 times more data than existing optical fibers. What’s even more impressive is it is as fine as a human hair (same width as standard fiber cables).
The cable can be easily connected to existing devices and is less prone to damage due to its narrower diameter. These benefits also result in great cost-savings over other kinds of fiber optics. However, the team didn’t mention how far the data can be transferred at such high rates.
This is the first time, someone has come up with a practical and usable-sized fiber that is resilient and can reliably transmit enormous amounts of information. As of now, it seems a perfect solution to the bottleneck generated by standard fiber optics.