Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands and The College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida (CREOL) report in the journal Nature Photonics the successful transmission of 255 Tbps over multicore optical fiber.
The new fiber has seven different cores through which light can travel, and each core can support three different spatial modes via spatial division multiplexing (SDM).
Researchers are exploring SDM as a promising way to increase the capacity and reduce the costs of transmission systems in the future – when the capacity of fibers in the ground has been exhausted.
The researchers described the innovation as "going from a one-way road to a seven-lane highway," adding that the use of multiple spatial modes is "as if three cars can drive on top of each other in the same lane." Combining those two methods increases the transmission capacity of the fiber by a factor of 21 compared to standard optical fibers that have only one singlemode core.
"This new type of fiber could be an answer to mitigating the impending optical transmission capacity crunch caused by the increasing bandwidth demand," the researchers said, via a press release.
This isn't the highest capacity reported to date over a single fiber. Last year, researchers from NEC and Corning claimed 1.05 Pbps transmission over a single optical fiber containing 12 singlemode and two multimode cores (see "NEC, Corning claim petabit transmission over a single optical fiber"). The Europe's MODE-GAP program, in which the COBRA Institute at Technische Universiteit Eindhoven is active, is also looking at SDM and various new fiber types (see "MODE-GAP project makes progress in mode-division multiplexing" and "Coriant transmits 57.6 Tbps via hollow core fiber, space-division multiplexing").
The Dutch and U.S. researchers believe their particular fiber design looks promising. "At less than 200 microns in diameter, this fiber does not take noticeably more space than conventional fibers already deployed," said Dr. Chigo Okonkwo, an assistant professor in the Electro-Optical Communications (ECO) research group at TU/e.
"These remarkable results definitely give the possibility to achieve petabit-per-second transmission, which is the focus of the European Commission in the coming seven-year Horizon 2020 research program," he added.
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