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1 Gbps is for Slow Pokes

As technical and operations managers fret about 1 Gigabit per second or even 100 Gbps transmission, a transatlantic alliance of researchers revealed test results this week about the successful transmission of a record 255 Terabits per second over a new type of special fiber.

The multi-strand fiber has seven different cores through which the light can travel, rather than the single strand in current state-of-the-art fibers, according to thereport from researchersat Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands and the University of Central Florida.

No commercial details, such as price or production schedule, were cited in the report, which waspublished inNature Photonics a technical journal.

The study's authors said that the new fiber can carry 21 times more bandwidth than anything currently available for communications networks, thus "mitigating the impending optical transmission capacity crunch caused by the increasing bandwidth demand."

The report cited the "exponential" growth of Internet services, network data centers and telecommunication bandwidth as necessitating the ability "to transmit more information through current optical glass fibers."  But, the report said, increased power within the glass produces "unwanted photonic nonlinear effects, which limit the amount of information that can be recovered after transmission."

Hence, the research team focused on developing  "a new class of fiber to increase transmission capacity and mitigate the impending ‘capacity crunch.’"  The new fibre has seven different cores through which the light can travel as well as two additional orthogonal dimensions for data transport. The academics compared it to a highway in which three cars can drive on top of each other in the same lane. Combining these technologies can achieve a gross transmission throughput of 255 Tbps, more than 20 times the current backbone levels of 4-8 Tbps, according to the researchers.

Moreover, the bundled glass fibers occupy less than 200 microns in diameter, which is not noticeably more space than conventional fibers, according to Dr. Chigo Okonkwo, a co-author of the report.

The project is one of several efforts, including ventures underway in Germany, France and the U.S. to develop fiber optic systems capable of handling high-Terabyte or even Petabyte capacity by the end of this decade. Observers considered the project in Eindhoven and Central Florida as a possible landmark in a cost-efficient approach to the looming capacity hurdle.

By the way, if you're NOT a regular reader of Nature Photonics journal, but ARE a "Star Trek" (or other sci-fi) fan, you missed a great article about "teleportation" in the previous issue. Search for it: "Quantum teleportation on a photonic chip."