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A new record for data transmission over standard optical fiber

Another barrier in fiber optic data transmission has been overcome
(photo: CC0 Public Domain)

An international team of researchers has announced that it has achieved a world record for the speed of data transfer over a standard 125-micron optical fiber. A speed of 1.7 petabits per second was registered.

Of the approved standards in the new optical fiber is only its thickness, while it itself contains 19 wires (cores). However, the standard physical dimensions of the cable have been retained, which will allow the use of existing cable infrastructure and facilitate the upgrading of networks to the next level.

The development was presented at the 46th Fiber Optic Conference by Japanese engineers (NICT and Sumitomo Electric), as well as specialists from Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands), L’Aquila University (Italy) and Australia’s Macquarie University, New Atlas reported.

The transmission rate of 1.7 Pbps (1.7 petabits, which is 1.7 million gigabits or 212.5 terabytes per second) is not the highest throughput achieved on optical fiber. The world record for this indicator, registered by Scandinavian scientists last year, is 1.84 Pbps, but at the cost of a complex transmission technology that cannot be implemented easily at the current level of production development.

The new development, on the contrary, uses existing technologies both for the production of optical cables and for the element base. Also, the use of a standard thickness of optical cables implies the preservation of the entire existing cable infrastructure, which will allow the modernization of the existing cable networks in the shortest possible time – from 5 to 10 years.

The essence of the development is a transition to optical cables with 19 cores (cores). The experimental cable was manufactured by Sumitomo Electric, and the Australian partners created an optical glass chip (multiplexer) with waveguides etched into it to split the signal from one core to 19 using a laser 3D printer.

During the demonstration, data was transmitted over standard optical fiber at a record speed over a distance of 67 km.

“At Macquarie University, we have created a compact glass chip with a waveguide pattern etched into it using 3D laser printing technology,” said Dr Simon Gross from the Macquarie School of Engineering, one of the project’s developers.

“This allows up to 19 individual fiber strands to be fed simultaneously with uniform low loss. Other approaches are lossy and limited in terms of the number of cores,” emphasizes Dr. Simon.

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