Innovation That Matters

A single micro-comb can replace large numbers of infrared lasers | Photo source Monash University

Experimental photonic chip achieves record-high internet speed

Computing & Tech

Australian researchers have recorded an internet speed of 44.2 Terabits per second, believed to be the fastest ever speed from a single light source


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Spotted: Researchers from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities in Australia have recorded an internet speed of 44.2 Terabits per second, from a single chip. It is believed to be the fastest ever internet speed from a single light source — enough to download 1,000 HD movies in just one second. Astonishingly, the speeds were achieved using the existing communications infrastructure.

The researchers achieved the tremendous speed by using a device called a micro-comb. This is a type of optical chip which can replace 80 separate infrared lasers, used for carrying communications signals. The micro-comb acts like a “rainbow made up of hundreds of high-quality infrared lasers,” all contained in a single chip. Each “laser” can then be used as a separate communications channel.

In order to illustrate how the micro-combs could be used to speed up existing telecommunications infrastructure, the researchers installed the chip in “dark” (unused) optical fibres between RMIT’s Melbourne City Campus and Monash University’s Clayton Campus. The researchers were able to send a stream of data down each channel, creating total speeds of 44.2 Terabits per second.

Dr Bill Corcoran, the co-lead author of the study, explained that the research demonstrates, “the ability for fibres that we already have in the ground…to be the backbone of communications networks now and in the future…And it’s not just Netflix we’re talking about here – it’s the broader scale of what we use our communication networks for. This data can be used for self-driving cars and future transportation and it can help the medicine, education, finance and e-commerce industries, as well as enable us to read with our grandchildren from kilometres away.”

Fast data speeds will be essential for the future growth of communications and connectivity. From self-driving vehicles to labs that exist in the cloud, the future of work and life is going to involve increasingly fast connection speeds.

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