The UK, with average broadband speeds of just 6.2 Mbps, is looking on enviously as tests with new laser technology resulted in a new record speed of 26 Tbps.

Researchers have achieved a new record for data transfer rate using a single laser. The results published in the Nature Photonics journal show data transfer reaching a staggering rate of 26 terabits per second (Tbps). At this new record speed rate you could download around 100 Blu-ray quality movies in less than a second.

The method uses a system known as “fast fourier transform” to separate more than 300 colours of light in the laser beam and encode each with its own string of information. Faster speeds have already been achieved. However these higher speeds require the presence of 370 lasers, which according to report co-author Wolfgang Freude, “fill racks and consume several kilowatts of power.

The new technique was devised by Professor Freude and colleagues. They created comparable data rates using a single laser and with shorter pulses, which contain colours of light known as a “frequency comb”. However current methods to separate these colours do not work, therefore in the current experiment the team sent their signals down 50km of optical cable and used fast fourier transformation to assimilate the data streams.

Professor Freude himself concedes that the current design is a highly complex one, so it is unlikely to be a competitor to high speed business broadband services for many years yet. However, work is progressing on silicon photonics which will enable the technology to be integrated on to a chip and enable mass market consumption.

(Image by Dmuth)


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