A team of engineers from Australia has developed a photonic chip capable of downloading 1,000 high-definition films in just one second, breaking the world record speed for exchanging files over the internet.
The optical chip – which works with light instead of electricity – reached 44.2 Terabits per second. It is common for researchers to prefer the conditions of a laboratory to carry out this type of experiment, however, the Australians opted for the communications infrastructure of the Royal Institute of Technology in Melbourne and Monash University. With that, it was possible to test the efficiency of optical technology directly on the network.
To carry out the demonstration, the team used a micropente, a smaller and lighter device than the current telecommunications hardware capable of replacing 80 lasers with a single device.
“What our research demonstrates is the ability of the optical fibers that we already have installed underground to become the backbone of communications networks now and in the future. And it’s not just Netflix that we’re talking about here – it’s the broadest scale for which we use our communication networks “, explains Bill Corcoran, a researcher in the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University.
“This data can be used for autonomous cars and future transportation and can help the medicine, education, finance and e-commerce industries, in addition to allowing us to read with our grandchildren from miles away,” concludes Corcoran.
How was the experiment done?
The team of engineers installed 76.6 km of optical fibers between RMIT and Monash universities to measure the performance of optical micropents and their impact on the optimization of communication systems.
These micropents, made up of hundreds of infrared lasers, were positioned inside these fibers. Each laser functions as an independent communication channel. Exploiting the full bandwidth of 4THz, the team reached the ideal data speed of 44.2 Tbps.
“In the long run, we hope to create integrated photonic chips that can enable this type of data rate to be achieved through existing fiber optic links at minimal cost,” said professor and project member Arnan Mitchell.