Fiber optic communication has revolutionized telephone, internet, and television communication since its development and early uses in the 1970s. Continuing development and technological advances in the fiber optics industry will further advance communications across the globe. Today, the primary infrastructure for much of the internet consists of fiber optics-developing ways to increase the speed of these connections would have a huge impact on internet function for all users, even those not connected with optical cables. Researchers at the University of California (San Diego) have discovered a breakthrough that could potentially double the speed of fiber optic networks.
Current long distance fiber optic communication requires signal repeaters placed along the network that help to send signals farther. The distance that a signal can be sent is limited-beyond that limit, energy begins to distort a signal and receivers cannot decipher it. This new discovery could mean farther transmission without distortion, requiring fewer repeaters and resulting in speedier data transmission. Researchers reached a new record when they transmitted a signal 12,000 kilometers and successfully decoded it without the use of repeaters. This discovery also means lower costs when building future infrastructures.
The UC San Diego research team published a paper just last year stating the theoretical possibilities of the new development. The team discovered that current distortion occurring during data transmission was actually the result of fixed physical laws and not just a random occurrence. This discovery led to the use of a device that allows a signal to be pre-conditioned so that gaps caused by distortion can be reconstructed. This device-known as a frequency comb-synchronizes the various channels found in the typical optical fiber. This impedes the amount of distortion between different data bundles and ensures that the signal is deciphered at the receiver. The team was able to increase the energy output of the signal 20 fold while still maintaining coherency.
Advances such as this breakthrough made by UC San Diego researchers will eventually increase the speed and efficiency of fiber optic communications. Not only will these advances increase our own productivity, but they will promote more cost-efficient infrastructure development as well.
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