Petabit-per-second downloads on the cards with new optical fibre

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Petabit-per-second downloads on the cards with new optical fibre

Macquarie Uni develops fibre '12 million times faster' than NBN.

Macquarie University has collaborated with Japanese researchers to develop a new optic fibre they is capable of download speeds 12 million times faster than the quickest NBN connection.

The researchers from the Macquarie University Photonics Research Centre are hopeful that, apart from boosting speeds to 1.2 petabits per second, money could be saved on large-scale cables by slimming them down while maintaining throughput.

While most other research into high-capacity data cables to keep up with the exponential growth of internet use has so far led thicker fibres that are susceptible to damage from bending and pulling.

However, the new fibre developed in conjunction with Japan’s Hokkaido University and electronics manufacturer Fujikura is about the size of a human hair, or almost the size of standard optical fibres at the moment.

But the 4-core, 3-mode fibre can transmit 12 times as much data per second, while the narrower diameter lends it more flexibility. It can also be cabled and connected using existing equipment, resulting in significant savings compared to other types of experimental fibres.

It's also enabled by a coupler developed at Macquarie University and a transmission system developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Japan.

The researchers expect the new petabit-per-second fibre could be especially useful for transmitting data between data centres, metropolitan networks, or undersea cables.

It could also support the growing demand for data that’s already being driven by developments in big data, streaming services and artificial intelligence, as well as expected increases allowed by 5G networks.

“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,” Dr Simon Gross from the Macquarie University Photonics Research Centre said.

“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,” Gross added.

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