Scientists have set a new internet speed record with an optical chip

  • A new optical “frequency comb” chip design can transmit twice as much data as the entire Internet in just one second.
  • A frequency comb is a masterfully precise laser composed of many different frequencies or color wavelengths.
  • The global internet is based on fiber optic technology, which has a large capacity for data transmission.

In a new study, scientists have blown the roof off conventional telecommunications with a chip that can send nearly twice as much traffic as the entire Internet in one second — a data transfer speed record. Researchers say that just one light source and one optical chip can work together to produce a “frequency comb” whose data transfer rates can make eyes water. How can the same small collection of raw materials, i.e. siliconDo things in our home computers and infrastructure create even faster speeds?

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The new chip was developed by the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology and Japan’s Fujikura Ltd. developed by the company’s researchers. Their paper appears in Nature photonics.

“We are experimentally demonstrating a transmission of 1.84 Pbits-1using 223 wavelength channels from a single microcomb ring resonator producing a dark-pulse Kerr frequency comb stabilized over a 37-core, 7.9-km-long fiber,” the authors write.

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here. However, the headline statistic here is the speed: 1.84 petabits or New Atlas explains, “almost twice the global internet traffic per second.” A home internet connection of one to 10 gigabits is currently the cutting edge in consumer technology, and one petabit is one million gigabits. Fiber optics — the glass-based cables that carry the largest bandwidth of Internet traffic — are the key to future global communications, but our current technology will eventually reach its limits, the paper’s authors say.

Remember the earliest telecommunications, such as Morse code, delivered over telegraph lines? Everything that follows has the same basic underlying mechanics: on and off, 0 and 1, space and not space. The “optical” part of fiber optics is that it is the carrier for the very fast flashing of light. One of the most advanced methods of sending the smallest and most predictable flashes of light, the frequency comb is naturally best in class.

What is a frequency comb? US government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) he explained as a final part self study appears in the journal Nature: “[A] a frequency comb is a type of laser whose light is composed of many precisely defined frequencies whose light can be precisely measured. If we look at the spectrum of the laser on the display, each frequency stands out like a tooth of a comb and gives the technology its name.

Frequency combs are commonly used to accurately measure time and distance, and applications range from atomic clocks to telescopes.

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But a team led by the University of Copenhagen is harnessing this light in a new way to carry an astonishing amount of information. According to a DTU press release, the optical chip divides the laser into the full spectrum of light, creating a frequency comb that produces “hundreds” of different frequencies, or colors. Researchers can then encode the data into each of the individual wavelengths of that color.

One chip can replace 1,000 lasers currently used in fiber optics, making the entire system more energy efficient.

researchers set new internet data transfer speed with optical frequency comb chip

Diagram of an optical frequency comb generated in a ring resonator.

Dodd-Walls Center for Photonics and Quantum Technologies, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Computer network infrastructure is divided into smaller and smaller structures, which comes with a disadvantage: each downshift in “pipe size” comes with a transmission point and different equipment. That is, any major advance in a particular area of ​​computer technology should be taken with an equally large grain of salt. You can’t just drop a world record computer chip into our existing system. If you’ve ever tried to salvage your aging computer by installing new RAM or a new graphics card, you may have learned a hard lesson about the holistic nature of computers.

The researchers also set this new data transfer speed record using “specialized cables,” meaning their technology is far from infrastructure ready—this is scientific research, not a consumer trade show. But the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology recently broke the internet speed record for standard cables, meaning that unlike a frequency comb chip, the technology will easily fit into existing infrastructure.

But this record could still change the landscape of telecommunications. And the Copenhagen-based research team says they’re not stopping at 1.84 petabytes per second. With the right setup, they believe they can build a single chip capable of transmitting 100 petabits per second. that’s it 100 times today’s global internet traffic per second. Get ready, because your uninterrupted Zoom meetings are about to go more smoothly.

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