Aston Uni researchers break data record again, with 402Tbps trial

Created July 9, 2024
Applications and Research

A team of researchers, including scientists from Aston University, in Birmingham, UK, have set a new record for data transmission at 402Tbps, using commercially available optical fibre. This beats their previous record, announced in March 2024, of 301Tbps using a single, standard optical fibre. Compared to the internet connection speed recommendations of Netflix, of 3Mbps or higher, for a watching a HD movie, this speed is over 100 million times faster. The speed was achieved by using a wider spectrum, utilising six bands rather than the previous four, which increased capacity for data sharing. Normally just one or two bands are used.

The international research team included Professor Wladek Forysiak and Dr Ian Philips who are members of the University’s Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT). Led by the Photonic Network Laboratory of the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) which is based in Tokyo, Japan, it also including Nokia Bell labs of the USA. Together they achieved the feat by constructing the first optical transmission system covering six wavelength bands (O,E,S,C,L and U) used in fibre optical communication. Aston University contributed specifically by building a set of U-band Raman amplifiers, the longest part of the combined wavelength spectrum, where conventional doped fibre amplifiers are not presently available from commercial sources.As well as increasing capacity by approximately a third, the technique uses so-called “standard fibre” that is already deployed in huge quantities worldwide, so there would be no need to install new specialist cables to take advantage of this development.

Aston University’s Dr Philips (pictured) said, “This finding could help increase capacity on a single fibre so the world would have a higher performing system. The newly developed technology is expected to make a significant contribution to expand the communication capacity of the optical communication infrastructure as future data services rapidly increase demand.” His colleague Professor Wladek Forysiak added, ‘This is a ‘hero experiment’ made possible by a multi-national team effort and very recent technical advances in telecommunications research laboratories from across the world’.”

The results of the experiment were accepted as a post-deadline paper at the 47th International Conference on Optical Fiber Communications (OFC 2024) in the USA on 28 March. To help support some of its work in this area Aston University has received funding from EPSRC (UKRI), the Royal Society (RS Exchange grant with NICT) and the EU (European Training Network).

Participants in the trial included NICT Photonic Network Laboratory, (transmission system design and development); Aston University, (development of Raman amplifiers); Nokia Bell Labs, (development of optical gain equalizers); Hong Kong-based Amonics, (development of optical fibre amplifiers and Raman amplifiers); and ther University of Padova and the University of Stuttgart, which participated in transmission experiments.

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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.