Scientists at the Boston University in the U.S. have discovered new fibre optic technology that can boost internet capacity.
The new technology operates using round, rather than vertical laser beams, resulting in a twisting movement that can increase the capacity of bandwidth as internet traffic increases through the use of smartphones, tablets and other internet-enabled devices, that has begun to create problems for network providers.
The new technology uses optical vortices, also known as orbital angular momentum (OAM) beams, that until now were thought to be unstable and unreliable in fibre.
Siddharth Ramachandran, a professor in engineering at the university said that “Our discovery, of design classes in which they are stable, has profound implications for a variety of scientific and technological field.”
Ramachandran along with co-author of the findings Alan Willner, an optical communication system expert at the University of Southern California, will combine the new solution with the traditional method to increase internet capacity.
According to ABC Science, since the 1990s, bandwidth has been enhanced by increasing the number of colours, or wavelengths of data-carrying laser signals – essentially streams of 1s and 0s- sent down an optical fibre. However, that process has now begun to reach its physical limits.
The report continues to explain that “An emerging strategy to boost bandwidth is to send the light through a fibre along distinctive paths, or modes from one end of the fibre to the other. Unlike the colour channels, data streams of 1s and 0s mix together so determining which stream data comes from requires computationally intensive and energy-hungry algorithms.”
Ramachandran and Willner’s approach combines both techniques packing several colours into each mode using several modes.
Ben Eggleton, director of the Centre for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) at the University of Sydney, said the implementation of the new system will require new fibre system adjustments and redesign of architecture and may take some years for it to be deployed.