Record-breaking laser transfers 26 terabits per second

Probably not transfering 700 DVDs in this particular laser scenario
Probably not transfering 700 DVDs in this particular laser scenario

A single laser beam has been used to transfer 26 terabits of data in one second by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

The extreme data transfer was the equivalent of 700 DVDs being transferred in one second, speeds that we mere mortals can only dream of as we sit drumming our fingers on the desk while ripping a single CD, watching the progress bar slowly creep along the screen.

It's not the fastest data transfer known to mankind, with Professor Wolfgang Freude, the paper's co-author, explaining, "Already a 100 terabits per second experiment has been demonstrated.

"The problem was they didn't have just one laser, they had something like 370 lasers, which is an incredibly expensive thing. If you can imagine 370 lasers, they fill racks and consume several kilowatts of power."

Here's the complicated bit

The secret to the single laser transfer was using very short pulses in a 'frequency comb', a number of different colours of light contained within the single beam.

The laser pulses are beamed through an optical fibre, but special equipment is required to unpick the coloured data strings when they reach their destination.

It's all a bit complex for us at this time on a Monday afternoon (check out the scientific journal Nature Photonics for more information), but Professor Freude reckons that the technique could be integrated into silicon chips, so we could see this super speedy file transfer in consumer machines at some point in the future.

Lasers: the only way you could possibly make data transfer cool. Good work, science.


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