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'Record' 255Tbit/s data transmission over seven-core fiber

30 Oct 2014

Eindhoven-led team develop new fiber that allows 21 times more bandwidth than is currently available.

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands and the University of Central Florida (CREOL) in the USA, have reported the successful transmission of a record high 255 Tbits/s over a new fiber type, which allows 21 times more bandwidth than is currently available in communication networks.

The international team, led by Dr. Chigo Okonkwo, assistant professor in the Electro-Optical Communications research group at TU/e and Dr. Rodrigo Amezcua Correa, assistant professor in Micro-structured fibers at CREOL, says the new fiber could be a solution to the "optical transmission capacity crunch" caused by today's increasing bandwidth demand. The work was published this week in Nature Photonics.

Due to the growing popularity of Internet services and emerging network of capacity-hungry datacenters, demand for telecommunication bandwidth is expected to continue at an exponential rate. To transmit more information through current optical glass fibers, one option is to increase the power of the signals to overcome the losses inherent in the glass from which the fiber is manufactured. However, this produces unwanted photonic nonlinear effects, which limit the amount of information that can be recovered after transmission over the standard fiber.

New class of fiber

The new fiber has seven different cores through which the light can travel, instead of one in current state-of-the-art fibers. Also, the developers have introduced two additional orthogonal dimensions for data transportation – as if three cars could drive on top of each other in the same lane on a highway. Combining those two methods, they have achieved a gross transmission throughput of 255 Terabits/s over the fiber link.

Dr. Chigo Okonkwo told optics.org, “One of the key achievements of our project is the development of a brand new class of few-mode multicore fibers by our colleagues in CREOL. At less than 200µm in diameter, the new fiber does not take up significantly more space than conventional fibers already deployed.

"This work, which is supported by the EU Framework 7's MODEGAP project, opens up the possibility of achieving petabit transmission, which is the focus of the European Commission in its Horizon 2020 research programme. Our results also show the importance of the research carried at TU/e with other well-known teams around the world in high-capacity optical transmission systems."

“One of the key differences of this fiber from that used by the likes of NEC and Corning in their high rate transmission experiments (reported last year in optics.org) is that in comparison to using a combination of single and few-mode cores, our hole-assisted fiber uses 7 few-mode cores, which are shown in the paper to have similar performance in terms of dispersion, losses and in delivering the same spectral efficiency.

“Secondly, the hole assisted design enables lower intra-core crosstalk to below what is achievable with the trench assisted fiber structure can provide. Another plus for fiber manufacturers to design lower crosstalk fibers. Hence this is one of a new class of few-mode multi-core fibers that has been shown to be able to convey a high throughput of information with a high spectral efficiency."

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

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