Normal broadband cable supports data transfer at a speed of up to 30 megabits per second. But a multi-national team of scientists has developed a method that transmits data 85 thousand times faster than broadband cable.
The team from University of Southern California used twisted beams of light to transmit data at a whopping 2.56 terabits per second.
Lead scientist Alan Willner - an electrical engineering professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering - and his colleagues used beam-twisting "phase holograms" to manipulate eight beams of light. A phased hologram refracts light by means of different thicknesses of a transparent substance.
As part of the experiment funded by the funded by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, the researchers twisted each of the beams into a DNA-like helical shape and propagated them in free space. Their demonstration transmitted data over open space in a lab, by attempting to simulate communications between satellites in space.
"You're able to do things with light that you can't do with electricity. That's the beauty of light; it's a bunch of photons that can be manipulated in many different ways at very high speed," said Willner. "We didn't invent the twisting of light, but we took the concept and ramped it up to a terabit-per-second."
The work could potentially be used in the building of high-speed satellite communication links and short free-space terrestrial links. Further research could lead to ways the finding could be adapted for use in fiber-optic cables that transmit much of the Internet's information.
Willner has published an article about the research in the journal, Nature Photonics.
by RTT Staff Writer
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