Fiber optic magic: Twisted light beam may help turbocharge the internet

While every gadget today seem to connect to the internet wirelessly, everyone still depends on miles and miles of cables to transmit data. In a constant effort to improved speed and bandwidth, researchers have now developed light beams that traverse the fiber optics in a spiral.

Experts from the University of California, OFS-Fitel and the Tel Aviv University were able to transmit data via a 0.62 mile of cable at a lightning pace of 1.6 terabits a second.  The method made the fiber optics about 1,000 times roomier than the Google Fiber, which operates on gigabit rate. The achieved internet speed can make downloading of eight Blu-ray discs in a blink.

The researchers published the results of their work called "Light Beams With a Twist Could Give a Turbo Boost to Fiber-Optic Cables" on the journal Science on June 28.

"It's similar to radio. You have all these different frequencies traveling in the air, but your radio can pull out one signal," explained Alan Willner, co-author of the study and engineer at the USC, in an interview with International Business Times.

The researchers manipulated beams of data to travel the fiber optics in a vortex using different colors that are filtered by optic devices at the other end of the line.

"Having almost exhausted available degrees of freedom to orthogonally multiplex data, the possibility is now being explored of using spatial modes of fibers to enhance data capacity. We demonstrate the viability of using the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light to create orthogonal, spatially distinct streams of data-transmitting channels that are multiplexed in a single fiber," stated the abstract of the study. "These demonstrations suggest that OAM could provide an additional degree of freedom for data multiplexing in future fiber networks."

The experts made use of elements such as fluorine and germanium as coating for the insides of the fiber optics to keep the data beam traveling in a twisted pattern.

According to the proponents, a ton of technical tweaks are needed to make the data-beaming vortex fiber optics technology more viable for wholesale but they are suggesting that server farms can be the first ones to make use of the technology.

Looking ahead, as terabit bandwidth is made possible, most likely the human demand for bandwidth will force us to a never-ending search for upgrades.

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