As part of a recent research, scientists from the University College London have achieved the fastest data transfer rate ever recorded between a transmitter and a receiver. With the help of an advanced optical communications system, the team has been able to send data at an incredibly high rate of 1.125 terabits per second. As the researchers point out, the new record is nearly 50,000 times greater than the 24 megabits per second speed of currently-available broadband networks.
The feat was achieved as part of the team’s research on factors that limit the capacity of today’s optical transmission systems. According to the scientists, optical telecommunication systems facilitate super-fast data transmission, thanks to their ability to transmit information using light.With the help of a transmitter, the system first converts an electronic signal into an optical one, which is then carried to its destination via optical fibers. Finally, a receiver turns the light signal back into electricity, while also decoding the message contained. Speaking about the research, recently published in the Scientific Reports journal, Robert Maher, a UCL professor and a member of the research team, said:
For comparison this is almost 50,000 times greater than the average speed of a UK broadband connection of 24 megabits per second (Mb/s), which is the current speed defining ‘superfast’ broadband. To give an example, the data rate we have achieved would allow the entire HD Games of Thrones series to be downloaded within 1 second.
With the help of the latest technologies in information theory and digital signal processing, the researchers have custom-built an entirely new optical communications system. Instead of relying on a single transmission channel, the newly-developed system uses as many as 15 different channels to send data, each carrying an optical signal of specific wavelength. Upon reaching the destination, the signals are combined and conveyed to a specially-designed receiver boasting ultra-high processing bandwidth. Dubbed as a “super-channel”, the system, the scientists claim, is capable of achieving data transfer speeds of up to 1.125 terabits per second. Maher added:
Using high-bandwidth super-receivers enables us to receive an entire super-channel in one go. Super-channels are becoming increasingly important for core optical communications systems, which transfer bulk data flows between large cities, countries or even continents.
Despite their impressive efficiency, super-channels have their own set of drawbacks. For instance, the presence of only one receiver results in varying levels of performance for each of the optical sub-channels. To overcome this, the researchers had to fine-tune the code rate as well as the modulation format for all of the channels, so as to optimize the net data transfer rate. Maher said:
This ultimately resulted in us achieving the greatest information rate ever recorded using a single receiver.
While the team’s success indeed opens up new avenues when it comes to optical telecommunication, it might be a long time before the technology is commercially available. For the time being, the researchers need to test if the system can achieve equally high speeds in case of long-distance transmission. This is because optical signals are usually susceptible to distortions, when travelling through thousands of miles of optical fibers. Polina Bayvel of UCL said:
This result is a milestone as it shows that terabit per second optical communications systems are possible in the quest to reach ever higher transmission capacities in optical fibers that carry the vast majority of all data generated or received. A high-capacity digital communications infrastructure underpins the internet and is essential to all aspects of the digital economy and everyday lives.
Source: University College London