New optical fibre sets world speed record

Created June 19, 2023
Applications and Research

A team of Australian, Japanese, Dutch and Italian researchers has set a new speed record for an industry standard optical fibre, achieving 1.7 Petabits over a 67km length of fibre. The fibre, which contains 19 cores that can each carry a signal, meets the global standards for fibre size ensuring that it can be adopted without massive infrastructure change, as well as using less digital processing, greatly reducing the power required per bit transmitted. Researchers at Macquarie University in Australia, have developed a glass chip, which was essential to the creation of a 19-core optical fibre.

“We’ve created a compact glass chip with a wave guide pattern etched into it by 3D laser printing technology. It allows signals to be fed into the 19 individual cores of the fibre simultaneously with uniform low losses. Other approaches are limited in the number of cores and result in the loss of too much light, which reduces the efficiency of the transmission system,” says Dr Simon Gross from Macquarie University’s School of Engineering. “It’s been exciting to work with the Japanese leaders in optical fibre technology. I hope we’ll see this technology in subsea cables within five to 10 years.”

Another researcher involved in the team, Professor Michael Withford from Macquarie University’s School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, believes this breakthrough in optical fibre technology has far-reaching implications. “The optical chip builds on decades of research into optics at Macquarie University,” says Professor Withford. “The underlying patented technology has many applications including finding planets orbiting distant stars, disease detection, even identifying damage in sewage pipes.”

The fibre was developed by the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT, Japan) and Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. (SEI, Japan) and the work was performed in collaboration with the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, University of L’Aquila in Italy and Sydney’s Macquarie University.

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.