Researchers break data transfer record across a single fibre

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Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands and the University of Central Florida (CREOL) in the USA, have announced the successful transmission of a record high 255 Terabits per second over a new type of fibre.

Due to the popularity of internet services and emerging network of capacity-hungry datacentres, demand for telecommunication bandwidth is expected to continue at an exponential rate. This new type of fibre could be an answer to mitigating the increasing demand for bandwidth, as the technology could allow for 21 times more bandwidth than currently available in communication networks

One option to deal with this increased demand on fibre networks is to increase the power of the signals to overcome the losses inherent in the glass from which the fibre is manufactured. However, this produces unwanted photonic nonlinear effects, which limit the amount of information that can be recovered after transmission over the standard fibre. 

The team at TU/e and CREOL, led by Dr Chigo Okonkwo, an assistant professor in the Electro-Optical Communications (ECO) research group at TU/e and Dr Rodrigo Amezcua Correa, a research assistant professor in Micro-structured fibres at CREOL, demonstrated the potential of a new class of fibre to increase transmission capacity and mitigate the demand on fibres created by the immense growth data traffic.

The new fibre has seven different cores through which the light can travel, instead of one in current state-of-the-art fibres. This compares to going from a one-way road to a seven-lane highway. The researchers also introduced two additional orthogonal dimensions for data transportation, as if three cars can drive on top of each other in the same lane.

Combining those two methods, they achieve a gross transmission throughput of 255 Terabits per second over the fibre link. This is more than 20 times the current standard of 4-8 Terabits per second.

Dr Chigo Okonkwo said: 'At less than 200 microns in diameter, this fibre does not take noticeably more space than conventional fibres already deployed. These remarkable results, supported by the European Union Framework 7, MODEGAP, definitely give the possibility to achieve Petabits per second transmission, which is the focus of the European Commission in the coming 7 year Horizon 2020 research programme.'

Okonkwo continued: 'The result also shows the key importance of the research carried out in Europe, and in particular at TU/e with other well-known teams around the world in high-capacity optical transmission systems.'

The research was published in the journal, Nature Photonics, authored by R.G.H. van Uden et al, entitled 'Ultra-high-density spatial division multiplexing with a few-mode multicore fibre.'

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