A groundbreaking achievement has been made in the field of optical fiber technology. A collaborative team of researchers from Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, and Italy has successfully set a new speed record for an industry standard optical fiber. They achieved an incredible data transmission rate of 1.7 Petabits over a length of 67 kilometers of fiber. What makes this accomplishment even more remarkable is that the fiber meets global standards in terms of size, making it compatible with existing infrastructure without requiring massive changes.
The optical fiber consists of 19 cores, each capable of carrying a signal. This multi-core design allows for an unprecedented level of data transmission, equivalent to more than 10 million fast home internet connections running at full capacity. Furthermore, this fiber requires less digital processing, resulting in significantly reduced power consumption per transmitted bit.
The development of this advanced fiber was made possible by the collaboration between the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. (SEI), alongside the Eindhoven University of Technology, University of L’Aquila, and Macquarie University.
The researchers at Macquarie University played a crucial role in supporting this breakthrough by creating a 3D laser-printed glass chip. This chip enables low-loss access to the 19 streams of light carried by the fiber and ensures compatibility with existing transmission equipment. The team’s expertise in optics and their development of this innovative technology have paved the way for various applications beyond data transmission, including planetary exploration, disease detection, and infrastructure inspection.
The significance of this achievement becomes apparent when considering the current state of global internet traffic. All internet traffic worldwide relies on optical fibers, which are typically as thin as 125 microns, similar to the thickness of a human hair. The first transatlantic subsea fiber-optic cable, TAT 8, deployed in 1988, had a capacity of only 20 Megabits or 40,000 telephone calls. Although subsequent generations of subsea cables have significantly increased capacity, the exponential growth in demand for data-intensive applications like streaming and video conferencing necessitates further advancements.
The newly developed fiber represents a significant leap forward in meeting the growing demands for data transmission. By employing 19 cores within a single fiber, this technology offers a substantial increase in capacity without the need for extensive infrastructure changes. While the deployment of this fiber in subsea cables may take several years, the potential impact on global communication and data transfer is immense.
The researchers involved in this project are optimistic about the future implications of their work. Dr. Simon Gross from Macquarie University’s School of Engineering highlights the decades of optics research that have contributed to pushing more data through single fibers. He emphasizes that the innovative techniques employed in this new fiber design can revolutionize long-haul cables and significantly reduce costs.
Professor Michael Withford from Macquarie University’s School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences emphasizes the broad applications of this breakthrough technology. The underlying patented technology, combined with the 3D laser printing capabilities, holds immense potential in various fields such as exoplanet discovery, disease diagnosis, and infrastructure maintenance.
The publication of this achievement in the proceedings of the Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC) 2023 serves as a testament to the significance and impact of this breakthrough in optical fiber technology. The collaborative efforts of researchers from different countries have pushed the boundaries of data transmission and paved the way for a future with enhanced global connectivity.
Source: Macquarie University