Researchers have used a single laser to transmit data at a 26 terabits per second over an optical fibre cable, a data-transmission breakthrough that promises to come in useful for cloud computing and 3D TV transmissions.
The transmission is the biggest volume of data ever carried by a laser beam, according to the group of scientists, led by Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. With the demonstration, which sent the equivalent of 200,000 high-resolution images across 50km in one second, the researchers said they had broken their own record of 10Tbps, set in 2010.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest line rate ever encoded onto a single light source," the researchers said in an announcement on Monday.
The data-transmission breakthrough was achieved by using a single laser to create a swathe of pulses -- dubbed 'frequency combs' -- which were separated by a wavelength of 12.5GHz. These combs were then magnified into 325 colour channels via 'inverse fast Fourier transform', then sent down a 50km cable. Once it reached the other end, an optical fast Fourier transform encoded it back into data.
A Fourier transform is, in essence, a mathematical method for taking any complicated time signal and breaking it down into its basic frequencies. The reverse applies for an inverse Fourier transform.
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