A world-first optical fibre has been developed in Australia that can transmit data at 1.2 Petabit/s. This is 12 million times quicker than the country’s fastest National Broadband Network (NBN) connection.
The dramatic improvement in speed was enabled by a coupler developed by scientists from the Macquarie University Photonics Research Centre, a fibre jointly developed by Hokkaido University and Fujikura Ltd, and the transmission system developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Japan (NICT).
The fibre researchers note that Internet data use is increasing exponentially, due to developments such as on-demand streaming and artificial intelligence, and we are fast approaching the limits of existing communications networks. They add that research into new types of optical fibre that can transmit ultra-large volumes of data have to date resulted in thick fibres that are vulnerable to damage from bending and pulling.
The four-core, three-mode fibre developed by Hokkaido University and Fujikura Ltd is almost the same width as existing standard optical fibres but can transmit 12 times as much data per second. Its narrower diameter means it is less prone to damage and can easily be cabled and connected using existing equipment, resulting in significant cost-savings over other types of fibres.
The fibre has applications in transmitting data between datacentres, metropolitan networks, or undersea communications cables, with the ability to smoothly accommodate traffic for big data and 5G services.
“The world’s insatiable demand for data means that we are approaching a ‘capacity crunch’ and need to find new ways to transport ever-larger volumes,” said Dr Simon Gross from the Macquarie Photonics Research Centre.
“This technology promises a solution to the bottleneck created by existing optical fibres. For the first time, we have created a realistic and useable-sized fibre which is resilient and can transport huge amounts of data.
“It also represents a big cost saving over installing the 12 standard optical fibres you would need to transport the same volume of data.”