Engineers Break Record for Fiber Optic Data Transmission Using New Breed of Laser

Think your fiber is fast? Think again: A team of engineers has smashed the world record for sending data down an optical fiber at room temperature when using a new breed of laser, achieving speeds of up to 57 Gbps.


Researchers from University of Illinois have been using the vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser to push the speed of data transmission. That’s because they create a sharper, more efficient pulse of light, and it’s thought that in time they could be used to create the world’s fastest optical data transmission systems, period.

In 2014, the team hit 40Gbps sending data down an optical fiber with the device. Now, they’ve shown that they can send error-free data down an optical fiber at speeds of 57 Gbps. That’s at room temperature. The speed drops to 50 Gbps at temperatures of 185 degrees Fahrenheit. At those kinds of speeds, you could download the contents of a Blu-ray in just a few seconds.

Higher data transmission speeds have been achieved in the past. Optical data transmission down fiber has already been pushed above 100Gbps, and researchers from University College London have sent data at 1.125 terabits per second between transmitter and receiver, but over zero distance. The new record is a step towards potentially even faster fiber networks.

The decrease in transmission speed at higher temperatures is due to increased distortion in the optical fiber. As things heat up, the signal is more likely to degrade, which means that the team has to dedicate more of the available bandwidth to error-correction. Performing experiments at room temperature puts a limit on speed, then—but it also makes the experiments relevant for the real world.

[OFC Proceedings via University of Illinois via Engadget]

Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.


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