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Dutch Scientists Build Fibre Optic Cable with Record Speeds of 255Tbps

Monday, October 27th, 2014 (4:50 pm) - Score 2,254

A team of Dutch scientists working at the Eindhoven University of Technology have built a new type of fibre optic cable with seven cores (traditional cables often have only a single core for laser light to travel down), which has enabled them to push an astonishing data speed of 255Tbps (Terabits per second) over a single 1km long link.

The speed itself was achieved by combining the new multicore cable with existing fibre optic wizardry, such as Wavelength Division Multiplexing that can turn the different colours of laser light into their own data carriers.

According to Nature Photonics, which is a peer-reviewed scientific journal, some 50 wavelength carriers on a dense 50GHz grid were used to deliver a gross transmission throughput of 255 Tbits (net 200Tbits).

Dr. Chigo Okonkwo said (Google Translated):

At less than 200 microns in diameter, this fibre does not take noticeably more space than conventional fibres already deployed. These remarkable results, supported by the European Union Framework 7, MODEGAP, definitely give the possibility to achieve Petabits/s transmission, which is the focus of the European Commission in the coming 7 year Horizon 2020 research programme.

The result also shows the key importance of the research carried out in Europe, and in particular at TU/e with other well-known teams around the world in high-capacity optical transmission systems.”

The researchers warn that traditional single-mode fibres with low loss and a large transmission bandwidth, which are currently very widely used, could be “on the verge of reaching the fundamental limit of single-mode fibre transmission capacity” and thus their solution hopes to avoid the often predicted “capacity crunch” of future years.

However developing new types of cable (e.g. hollow fibre optic), while very important, isn’t likely to have the same level of short to medium-term impact as enhancing how light is transmitted through the use of using existing cables. This is because it’s often a lot more expensive to lay new cables than it is to simply upgrade your existing infrastructure, although there will inevitably come a time when new cables need to be deployed.

Take note that today’s development is more about supporting big international / undersea (submarine) links, as opposed to ordinary domestic connectivity.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Pedrostech says:

    Is it 7 cores strapped onto each other without an outer cladding layer? Without the cladding, surely a lack of boundary refractive index difference would cause a complete mess of light; light would be crossing between fibres rather than doing TIR. However, if they could align the light down the multi core fibre, utilising the shape geometry, they could achieve a whole variety of different planar polarisations which could explain this. I’ll have to look into a bit more detail.

    I remember in school, we were shown a 1980s educational video that stated each and every UK property would have fibre by the year 2000!

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Added a picture above.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Pedro was that after or before the piece about flying cars and living on the moon 😉

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