A team of researchers in Denmark has broken the world record in data transmission – again – using a new type of optical fibre from a Japanese telecoms giant.
Proving that it’s possible to transfer 43 terabits per second with just a single laser in the transmitter, the team at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) eclipsed the previous record of 32 terabits per second, set by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie in Germany.
“We used all the clever tricks we could think of to create data in five dimensions: time, frequency, polarisation, qadrature and space,” says DTU research group leader Leif Katsuo Oxenløwe.
Reducing energy consumption while expanding bandwidth
The worldwide competition in data speed is helping to develop technology intended to accommodate the massive growth of data traffic on the internet, which is estimated to be growing by 40–50 per cent every year.
Emissions linked to the total energy consumption of the internet as a whole currently correspond to more than two per cent of the global man-made carbon emissions. This puts the internet on par with the transport industry (aircraft, shipping etc.).
These other industries are not growing by 40 per cent a year, though. So it’s essential to identify solutions for the internet that significantly reduce energy consumption and simultaneously expand the bandwidth. And that’s what the Danish team has demonstrated with its latest world record.
Using new type of optical fibre
The researchers have previously helped achieve the highest combined data transmission speed in the world – an incredible 1 petabit per second—although this involved using hundreds of lasers.
The researchers pulled off their latest feat thanks to a new type of optical fibre borrowed from the Japanese telecoms giant NNT. This type of fibre contains seven cores (glass threads) instead of the single core used in standard fibres, which makes it possible to transfer even more data. Despite the fact that it comprises seven cores, the new fibre doesn’t take up any more space than the standard version.
The researchers’ record result was verified and presented at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO 2014).
Breaking the ‘terabit barrier’ – and raising the bar
The High-Speed Optical Communications team at DTU has snatched many world records in data transmission. Back in 2009, the researchers were the first in the world to break the ‘terabit barrier’, which was considered an almost insurmountable challenge at the time. They succeeded in transmitting more than 1 terabit per second – again using just a single laser. The bar has now been raised to 43 terabits per second.