Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden claim to be the first in the world to transmit more than 1 petabit per second (Pbit/s) using only a single laser and a single optical chip.
The researchers transmitted 1.8 Pbit/s, which was carried by the light from one optical source. That corresponds to twice the current global internet traffic.
They used a custom-designed optical chip, which can use the light from a single infrared laser to create a rainbow spectrum of many colours, i.e. many frequencies. The researchers said that one frequency (colour) of a single laser can be multiplied into hundreds of frequencies (colours) in a single chip.
Victor Torres Company, professor at Chalmers University of Technology and head of the research group that has developed and manufactured the chip, said: “What is special about this chip is that it produces a frequency comb with ideal characteristics for fibre-optical communications – it has high optical power and covers a broad bandwidth within the spectral region that is interesting for advanced optical communications.”
“In fact, some of the characteristic parameters were achieved by coincidence and not by design,” he added. “However, with efforts in my team, we are now capable to reverse engineer the process and achieve with high reproducibility microcombs for target applications in telecommunications.”
The researchers believe their discovery will help to reduce the future power consumption of the internet – which could have an impact on both video delivery and consumption.
“Our solution provides a potential for replacing hundreds of thousands of the lasers located at internet hubs and data centres, all of which guzzle power and generate heat,” added professor Leif Katsuo Oxenløwe, head of the centre of excellence for silicon photonics for optical communications (SPOC) at DTU. “We have an opportunity to contribute to achieving an Internet that leaves a smaller climate footprint.”