Previously, the world record was set for data transfer speed at 109 terabits per second, transfered over a single fiber optic cable. The sneaky bit about that piece of information, however, is that though the 109 terabit transfer was achieved through a single cable, the actual cable had seven “light-guiding cores” inside of it, rather than a single core. The second fastest speed was 101.7 terabits per second, but employed 370 separate lasers, each carrying a small amount of information.
Now, Professor Wolfgang Freude and his colleagues have set the record for fastest data transfer using a single laser at 26 terabits per second.
Professor Freude comments on the previous data speed:
“Already a 100 terabits per second experiment has been demonstrated.
The problem was they didn’t have just one laser, they had something like 370 lasers, which is an incredibly expensive thing. If you can imagine 370 lasers, they fill racks and consume several kilowatts of power.”
Using one laser with short pulses — with said pulses containing around 325 separate colors of light, each carrying their own bit of information — Freude and his colleagues were able to send the information down 50 km of optical fiber and extract the different colors using a fast Fourier transform, which is an algorithm that can extract the different colors from a beam based on the number of times different parts of said beam arrive. Freude’s team manages to do this optically, rather than mathematically, by splitting the arriving beam in various parts that arrive at different times. Once that has been achieved, all that needs to be done is the separate bits of data need to be put back together.
Freude envisions this method of data transfer to be a cheaper method to obtain higher transfer speeds rather than one that consists of 370 separate lasers, and believes that though his idea is complex, it will become more commonplace as the demand increases for higher data transfer rates.
(via BBC News)