"Twisted Light" Paves the Way for Ultra-Fast Internet

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"Twisted Light" Paves the Way for Ultra-Fast Internet

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A new technique allows fiber-optic cables to move 2.5 terabits per second.

The speed of your internet connection is decided by a variety of different factors, including the efficiency of the cabling used to connect your local networks to the outside world. In our speedy modern times, these "backbone" cables tend to be fiber-optic in nature, coding your information into light and providing that light with a safe and easy route to its destination. As of writing, these cables are capable of some impressive speed-feats; but a new kind, tested this week by an international team of researchers, has been found capable of sending data at an incredible 2.5 terabits per second.

Professor Alan Willner and his team at the University of Southern California, working with colleagues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Tel Aviv University, achieved this feat by applying the principles of orbital angular momentum to light waves sent by fiber-optic cable. Their work was published in the journal Nature Photonics.

Ready for some physics? Sweet, me too. Orbital angular momentum is a fairly complicated idea, but according to the BBC, it basically works like this:

Our planet has "spin angular momentum" because it spins on its axis, and "orbital angular momentum" because it is also revolving around the sun.

Light can have both these types, but the spin version is the far more familiar - as what is commonly called polarization, or the direction along which light waves wiggle. Polarizing sunglasses and many 3D glasses work by passing one polarization and not another.

In many data-carrying applications involving light, more data is packed on to light waves by encoding one polarization with one data stream, and another with a different stream.

That means twice as much information can fit within the same "bandwidth" - the range of colors that the transmitting equipment is able to process.

On board? Cool. Orbital angular momentum, when applied to fiber-optic and potentially wi-fi data streams, takes the principle of splitting different streams to different polarizations and alters it so that rather than having different polarizations, the data streams are "twisted" together, packed in more tightly, and can therefore carry more stuff. "The idea is not to create light waves wiggling in different directions but rather with different amounts of twist, like screws with different numbers of threads," says the BBC.

Willner and his team successfully demonstrated the technique across one meter of cable, with two sets of four light beams with specific orbital angular momentum "twist" arranged to work in tandem. However, further adjustments will be required to reach the cable's twisty speed across larger distances.

"One of the challenges in this respect is turbulence in the atmosphere," said Willner. "For situations that require high capacity... over relatively short distances of less than 1 kilometer, this approach could be appealing. Of course, there are also opportunities for long-distance satellite-to-satellite communications in space, where turbulence is not an issue," he continued.

Having cabling capable of carrying 2.5 terabits per second does not, sadly, mean that we're likely to get anything close to that on our home or mobile machines anytime soon. Still, successful testing and implementation of this technique could pave the way for just those kinds of advancements in the future, with smartly twisted light washing away the layers of frustration born of speed issues so specific that they often feel deliberate. Doesn't that sound nice?

Source: BBC

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So what, thats like ALL the porn in a days worth of downloading? Say it in terms we net dwellers understand.

This is actually pretty awesome, though I'm now left wanting.

Well it's nice to know that science will continue to fuck me over for living in the suburbs

Ragsnstitches:
So what, thats like ALL the porn in a days worth of downloading? Say it in terms we net dwellers understand.

This is actually pretty awesome, though I'm now left wanting.

The porn is the first thing I though of too...

Let's hope this is soon, I want to dl a game in a few a few min instead of 30 min to a few hours...

*quitely weeps with his 80 kb/s connection*

I'm going to admit, I have no fucking idea what they're talking about. They're twisting the light signals around each other? You can change polarization like that mid-stream?

captcha: easy as cake

No, captcha, it's not, and I resent your condescending attitude.

Our children will look at us like idiots when we tell them we had a 56k modem while they get mad if the internet drops below a gig a second

Saw this on reddit. Apparently it's just a proof of concept and will never happen due to being so awkward to set up in a non-lab environment.

This is interesting however, I think its little more than pushing the boundries of what is becoming an antiquated medium.

I foresee a time when all bandwidth is transferred completely wirelessly and at speeds we cannot even fathom at this point. Basically with our wireless transmission what we are doing is having our science develop a form of technological telepathy. Then the only real physical medium we need is a base infrastructure of node repeaters to bounce signals back and forth forming what would be akin to widespread geographical based positronic network.

The future potentially looks astoundingly bright... if we dont cave to our baser stupidity and end up screwing ourselves before we get that far.

So, what you're REALLY trying to say is...

ALL MY PORN WILL SOON BE 1080P?!??!?!

Woohoo!

DVS BSTrD:
Well it's nice to know that science will continue to fuck me over for living in the suburbs

Don't worry. You're an American. We won't have this for another like, 80 years.

I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say:

Irridium:
*quitely weeps with his 80 kb/s connection*

...does it annoy you when your phone rings and your connection cuts off?

I'll admit I don't completly get it, but how is improving fiber optics going to help two satelites talk to each other?

Endocrom:
I'll admit I don't completly get it, but how is improving fiber optics going to help two satelites talk to each other?

Fiber optics work by sending light down the optic cable.

In space, it'd be the same, just without the cable and just directly between satellites.

It's not improving the cables, just the method of transmission (which, on earth, is done through the cables).

LetalisK:
I'm going to admit, I have no fucking idea what they're talking about. They're twisting the light signals around each other? You can change polarization like that mid-stream?

captcha: easy as cake

No, captcha, it's not, and I resent your condescending attitude.

Well I'm not sure I totally understood either
But let the deaf lead the blind :)

As far as I understood current optic cables transmit information on general light
While actual light isn't homogenous and have multiple spectrum
This new technique assigns its own information to each "layer" of light

Still complicated?
Ok, remember rainbow experiment from physics class
You split white light into six main components (six colors with transitions between them)
Now imagine that each of this main color transmits its own information
And now put this theory on steroids :D

If you still don't understand, then maybe understanding isn't for you
Just think of it as of techno-magic :)

P.S. I'm still might be wrong though.

Irridium:
*quitely weeps with his 80 kb/s connection*

*weeps alongside Irridium*

And I feel like the Escapist article kinda missed the point; From the article I read earlier, although this technology could greatly impact fiber optics, we generally don't use fiber optics at full bandwidth anyway. The biggest thing is it will mostly have a huge effect on wireless data, such as possible the satellite to satellite concept.

I only hope this can increase internet infastructure, so we can finally have more bandwidth to go around and internet providers can finally stop worrying about having to ration it so much

blackrave:

LetalisK:
I'm going to admit, I have no fucking idea what they're talking about. They're twisting the light signals around each other? You can change polarization like that mid-stream?

captcha: easy as cake

No, captcha, it's not, and I resent your condescending attitude.

Well I'm not sure I totally understood either
But let the deaf lead the blind :)

As far as I understood current optic cables transmit information on general light
While actual light isn't homogenous and have multiple spectrum
This new technique assigns its own information to each "layer" of light

Still complicated?
Ok, remember rainbow experiment from physics class
You split white light into six main components (six colors with transitions between them)
Now imagine that each of this main color transmits its own information
And now put this theory on steroids :D

If you still don't understand, then maybe understanding isn't for you
Just think of it as of techno-magic :)

P.S. I'm still might be wrong though.

So, I'm assuming this also means the current mode of transmitting data with light is relatively inefficient? Basically, we're using a whole piece of light to transmit an X amount of data and only a limited part of that beam is actually used and/or necessary? But we use the whole beam anyway because we haven't figured out(until now) how to split it and the data up accordingly?

blackrave:

LetalisK:
I'm going to admit, I have no fucking idea what they're talking about. They're twisting the light signals around each other? You can change polarization like that mid-stream?

captcha: easy as cake

No, captcha, it's not, and I resent your condescending attitude.

Well I'm not sure I totally understood either
But let the deaf lead the blind :)

As far as I understood current optic cables transmit information on general light
While actual light isn't homogenous and have multiple spectrum
This new technique assigns its own information to each "layer" of light

Still complicated?
Ok, remember rainbow experiment from physics class
You split white light into six main components (six colors with transitions between them)
Now imagine that each of this main color transmits its own information
And now put this theory on steroids :D

If you still don't understand, then maybe understanding isn't for you
Just think of it as of techno-magic :)

P.S. I'm still might be wrong though.

Yes, you are wrong. The idea is not to use different wavelengths of light. The idea is that a beam of light can be affected so that its oscillations proceed in a helical pattern. By overlaying many beams of light, each twisted slightly relative to the others, you can send multiple signals down the same bit of cable simultaneously.

want! Seriously I will sell an Asian kids kidney for this

DVS BSTrD:
Well it's nice to know that science will continue to fuck me over for living in the suburbs

ITs nto science that fucks you over, its bad ISP and the fact that so many internet users accept 90s technology as "the norm". Americans are so used to protesting agaisnt anything its hard for me to believe they havent protested for higher itnernet speeds, say, 10 years ago when the progress stopped?

What could anyone do with a connection greater than a gb a second... what is there to download that's that large?

For the record, my average of around 2mb/s is perfectly fine with me, thank you.

This very much reminds me of how The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect began.

I want this speed. Now.

Easton Dark:
What could anyone do with a connection greater than a gb a second... what is there to download that's that large?

I reckon films, games, porn, software.
None of which are proprietarily licensed, of course...

Problem is, and always will be, with this kind of technology, putting it to use and getting it to the users at an affordable price.

My internet speed is just fine thank you.

Would be nice to have a 312.5GB/s speeds :D Download a complete game in about .05 seconds! ::drools:: (assuming whomever you download from actually has the same upload speed XD)

Irridium:
*quitely weeps with his 80 kb/s connection*

80 kb/s ? Oh man, I get mad when BT drops below 3 mb/s when downloading 4 things at once, playing D3, and listening to grooveshark.
I legitimately feel sorry for you bro :(

Easton Dark:
What could anyone do with a connection greater than a gb a second... what is there to download that's that large?

For the record, my average of around 2mb/s is perfectly fine with me, thank you.

Why, download the internet of course! :D

image

A man can dream...

So it operates on a similar principle to DDR memory buses. One data burst at the top clock, one on the bottom.

What good is all this to most in the US? It won't change the minds of those like Comcast and Time Warner who want to rip people off with internet caps.
I suppose it is good news for those who don't have to deal with crooked ISP's, but sadly it doesn't give me good feelings.

samsonguy920:
What good is all this to most in the US? It won't change the minds of those like Comcast and Time Warner who want to rip people off with internet caps.
I suppose it is good news for those who don't have to deal with crooked ISP's, but sadly it doesn't give me good feelings.

You know that outside of the US, (at least where I'm from), it is almost unheard of NOT to have caps on internet, and when it is possible it is horribly expensive. You don't know how lucky you are.

Zagzag:

samsonguy920:
What good is all this to most in the US? It won't change the minds of those like Comcast and Time Warner who want to rip people off with internet caps.
I suppose it is good news for those who don't have to deal with crooked ISP's, but sadly it doesn't give me good feelings.

You know that outside of the US, (at least where I'm from), it is almost unheard of NOT to have caps on internet, and when it is possible it is horribly expensive. You don't know how lucky you are.

Guess it is hit or miss wherever you are. I do hear from many in Europe how they enjoy high speed without caps. They must be the lucky ones.
Either case, higher speeds won't deter internet caps. It just means you will reach your cap faster. Until I hear a legitimate reason and not just lame profiteering excuses from the big ISP's, I will stand on the position caps are completely unnecessary in this day and age.

samsonguy920:
Guess it is hit or miss wherever you are. I do hear from many in Europe how they enjoy high speed without caps. They must be the lucky ones.
Either case, higher speeds won't deter internet caps. It just means you will reach your cap faster. Until I hear a legitimate reason and not just lame profiteering excuses from the big ISP's, I will stand on the position caps are completely unnecessary in this day and age.

I agree that they are unnecesary, but since they are so normal here, people seem to just assume that there is a reason for them. I imagine that some Europeans get good unlimited intenet, but in the north of England, caps seem to be a fact of life for anyone who doesn't get their internet as part of a TV package, and even then its not certain.

The fact that the first commercial application of this tech will be satellite saddens me. That means that regardless of the download speeds, there will still be the 1 1/2 seconds of latency simply due to the speed of light, which varies between traveling through space and through the air. So it would still be nearly unusable for gaming, especially if you're a shooter fan.

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