Noise Cancelling Fibre Takes Data to the Next Level

May 30, 2013

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Last week we reported on new technology enabling data companies to send different “coloured” like beams through a fibre cable in order to reduce loss and speed up data transfer times. The company testing the fibre was able to achieve speeds of 800 Gbps over a very impressive distance. Today, we're happy to report another very impressive accomplishment out of a Bell Laboratories facility in New Jersey. According to Nature Photonics, Dr. Xiang Liu and a team of researchers have figured out a way to transmit paired beams of light down a single optical fibre at a speed of 400 Gbps. Despite slower speeds as compared to the previous project, the advantage of their technology is the equivalent of what happens with a pair of noise cancelling earphones. Dr. Liu's twin light beams carry the same data in the mirror images of one another. When the streams are received at the other end, the noise from one cancels out that of the other. The result is faster data speeds with far fewer data loss issues. In addition to increased speed and reduced loss, the beams can also travel up to four times further than a single beam. This makes them ideal for transcontinental data communications. Researchers were able to achieve both speed and distance improvements by increasing the amount of power in the beams. Nevertheless, increased power generally results in increased noise. Thus, researchers introduced the twin beam concept to get rid of the noise. The process of getting rid of the noise is known as phase conjugation. It relies on the simple concept of reproducing the same stream of data on opposite peaks and troughs of two identical light beams. When those two beams are brought together, the intersection of peaks and troughs clarifies the data while eliminating the noise.

Too Good to Be True?

Dr. Liu explains that the idea behind the new technology is actually surprisingly simple. So surprising, in fact, that he wondered aloud why it hadn't been tried before. But now that his team has proven noise can be undone through phase conjugation, it opens the door to incredible advances in fibre optics. The question now becomes how much power can be introduced to a light beam without destroying the fibre through which it is travelling. We suspect the combination of this new research and multi-coloured light waves discussed earlier will revolutionise both fibre optics and unified communications. It should also usher in a completely new era of streaming data and “on demand” Internet. The two technologies answer the biggest needs of data transfer on a global scale. As Dr. Liu correctly pointed out, the world is increasingly in need of ever-more data. Between individual consumers using it for personal and entertainment purposes, businesses conducting more and more of their daily activity online, and government agencies interdependent upon the Internet for global communications, this new technology comes at a very critical time. We are excited to see what follows…