A technology similar to how headphones cancel surrounding noises can pave the way for an Internet connection that is even faster than Google Fiber. Not just a blink faster, but about 400 times faster.
Researchers that published their work on Nature Photonics suggested that a pair of identical light beams can be sent through fiber and when the twin of light waves recombine at the end of the line, the noise they have gathered while traveling are cancelled out. The pair of light waves can cover four times the distance of a single beam.
According to a BBC article, the proponents used what is called phase conjugation and were able to send signals that go for 400 gigabits per second that covered 12,800 km of cables made of fiber optic. To put things in perspective, Google Fiber subscribers enjoy a transmission of 1 gigabit per second.
"At the receiver, if you superimpose the two waves, then al the distortions will magically cancel each other out, so you obtain the original signal back," explained Xiang Liu who led the team from Bell Laboratories.
The light is catapulted by a corresponding power through the fibers and the more power they carry, the farther they can go. However, the higher power used will make the light interact with the materials of the optic fiber instead of just quietly passing through. The interaction of light and fiber materials generates the noise that affects the transmission of data. The answer to this is phase conjugation.
Every light wave works just like sound waves or more concretely like sea waves that consists of peaks of troughs. Phase conjugation is a technique used to make the peak the trough of the wave and vice versa. This is similar to how headphones cancel out noise by producing an inverse wave of the incoming sound so the waves can cancel out.
When applied to fiber optics using a twin of light beams, the cancelled noise means that data can go further. The improved fidelity along the fiber will also boost up the speed.
"This concept, looking back, is quite easy to understand, but surprisingly, nobody did this before," Liu explained.
With more and more people going online and consuming more bandwidth, the phase-conjugated pair of light beams may be the building block to come up with an answer to the need for increased capacity.