The new 1.8 petabit per second world record was set by researchers in Denmark and Sweden, with a method that could be scaled to help reduce the internet’s climate footprint.
Scientists in Europe have set a new record in data transmission speed using only a single laser and single optical chip.
The international team of researchers from Technical University of Denmark and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden became the first in the world to achieve remarkable speeds of more than 1.8 petabits per second – twice the global internet traffic.
To get a better sense of the scale of this achievement, one petabit corresponds to 1m gigabits.
Researchers were able to transmit the data through light from only one optical source – a custom-designed optical chip that can use the light from a single infrared laser to create a rainbow spectrum of many colours or frequencies.
This means that a single chip created by the team can multiply the frequency of a single laser into hundreds of frequencies, which the researchers said has enormous potential for scaling and eventually reducing the climate footprint of the internet.
Victor Torres Company, a professor at Chalmers University of Technology and head of the research group that has developed and manufactured the chip, said that the experiment has the potential to positively impact fibre-optical communication.
“What is special about this chip is that it produces a frequency comb with ideal characteristics for fibre-optical communications – it has high optical power and covers a broad bandwidth within the spectral region that is interesting for advanced optical communications,” he said.
Torres Company added that some of the “characteristic parameters” of the experiment were achieved by coincidence and were not intentional. The team were then able to reverse-engineer the process and find applications of the technology in the telecommunications industry.
Prof Leif Katsuo Oxenløwe, head of the centre of excellence for silicon photonics for optical communications at the Technical University of Denmark, said that the team’s calculations show the single chip and laser combo will be able to transmit up to 100 petabits per second.
“In other words, our solution provides a potential for replacing hundreds of thousands of the lasers located at internet hubs and data centres, all of which guzzle power and generate heat,” he said.
“We have an opportunity to contribute to achieving an internet that leaves a smaller climate footprint.”
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