The team of researchers over at the University of Southampton in England have constructed a fibre that is hollow with inner walls that will prevent light from refracting. Fibre optic cables transfer data using light beams and even though theoretically the cables can carry data at near light speed, the actual data throughput is reduced by 31 per cent – thanks to the refraction of light as it passes through silica glass.
Refraction of light is less in air as compared to glass and to get around the above problem, researchers have been looking at options through which the core of the fiber can be replaced by air. Another hurdle was the question of how to get light beams to move through cables that bend and around curvatures. This is where the ingenuity of the research comes into play.
The researchers have built fibre cables with a hollow core that allows for movement of light across bends while minimizing loss of light due to refraction. The researchers credit this achievement to what they have dubbed “ultra-thin photonic-bandgap rim” that not only minimizes data loss but also reduces latency while providing for wider bandwidth.
Lab results indicate that the data moved between end points at the rate of 73.7 terabits per second – nearly a 1000 times better than today’s fibre cables. Scientists used division multiplexing for transferring data. There is a catch though.
As it stands the current technology does have data loss in tune of 3.5 dB/km. This amount of loss is too high for anything other than use in data transfer between endpoints that are not too far from each other – in other words, these cables can only be used for short-hop applications like connections within a supercomputer or data connections between servers in a data centre which are more or less straight.
Researchers are working towards minimizing the data loss and if they succeed, applications will be able to carry out, in real-time, ultra high definition 3D transmissions and possibly a lot more.
“This represents the first experimental demonstration of fibre-based wavelength division multiplexed data transmission at close to (99.7%) the speed of light in vacuum,” reads the abstract of the paper published on Nature.com.