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Seven-lane highway: Fibre line boasts 255Tbit/s throughput

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fibre? spatial multiplexing? wavelength division multiplexing?

The growing online traffic is threatening to flood the Internet with petabytes, even exabytes, of data. While continuous innovations shield us from the fear of a digital blackout, an overload is not far from happening given the popularity of online services and the emerging network of capacity-hungry datacentres, which have led to the ever-increasing bandwidth demand.

Now, a team of researchers at the at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and University of Central Florida (CREOL) have stepped forward with an answera new type of fibre that claims to push transmission capacity to 255Tbit/s, allowing 21 times more bandwidth than what is currently available in communication networks.

In satisfying the demand for telecommunication bandwidth, which grows at an exponential rate, one way is to transmit more information through current optical glass fibres. Existing solutions focus on increasing the power of the signals to overcome the losses inherent in the glass from which the fibre is manufactured. This, however, creates unwanted photonic non-linear effects, limiting the amount of information that can be recovered after transmission over the standard fibre.

Led by Dr Chigo Okonkwo, an assistant professor in the Electro-Optical Communications research group at TU/e and Dr Rodrigo Amezcua Correa, a research assistant professor in Micro-structured fibres at CREOL, the team demonstrated the potential of a new class of fibre to increase transmission capacity and mitigate the impending capacity crunch.

The new fibre introduces two approaches. First is the seven different cores through which the light can travel, instead of just one in today's fibres. This compares to going from a one-way road to a seven-lane highway. Second is the two additional orthogonal dimensions for data transportationas if three cars can drive on top of each other in the same lane.

Fibre design

The fibre has seven different cores through which light can travel. Each core has three dimensions for data transport. (Source: CREOL)

The team used spatial multiplexing to reach a data rate of 5.1Tbit/s on a single wavelength over a single fibre, and then wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) to push 50 carriers down the seven coresachieving a record-high transmission throughput of 255Tbit/s over the fibre link. This is more than 20 times the current standard of 4Tbit/s to 8Tbit/s.

"At less than 200? in diameter, this fibre does not take noticeably more space than conventional fibres already deployed," said Okonkwo. "These remarkable results, supported by the European Union Framework 7, MODEGAP, definitely give the possibility to achieve Petabit-per-second transmission."

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