Engineers Build Efficient Chip So Fast it Can Transmit All Internet’s Traffic in Under a Second

By splitting a single laser beam into different wavelengths of light, engineers have been able to transmit data at a rate of almost twice the combined internet traffic of the world per second.

This head-scratching achievement was made with just a laser and single optical chip.

Engineers from Chalmers University of Technology and the Technical Univ. of Denmark fired an infrared laser through a splitter called a “frequency comb” which divided the light into many different colors.

Each of the colors, or frequencies, can carry data by modulating their amplitude, phase, and polarization. The total amount of data that can be encoded is 1.8 petabits per second, or 1.8 million gigabytes; 800,000 more than the average global bandwidth of the whole internet.

A single optical chip designed by Chalmers was easily able to carry 1.8 Pbit/s, which—with contemporary state-of-the-art commercial equipment—would otherwise require more than 1,000 lasers.

The work of Leif Katsuo Oxenløwe et al. showed also that the technology is scalable.

“Our calculations show that—with the single chip and a single laser—we will be able to transmit up to 100 Pbit/s.”

“The reason for this is that our solution is scalable—both in terms of creating many frequencies and in terms of splitting the frequency comb into many spatial copies and then optically amplifying them, and using them as parallel sources with which we can transmit data,” said Professor Oxenløwe, who added it bodes well for emissions targets, of all things.

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“In other words, our solution provides a potential for replacing hundreds of thousands of the lasers located at Internet hubs and data centers, all of which guzzle power and generate heat. We have an opportunity to contribute to achieving an Internet that leaves a smaller climate footprint.”

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In May this year, New Atlas reports that a 1.04 Pbits/s transmission record was made in Japan with different technologies. Oxenløwe noted that there are people all over the world working to make these kinds of internet capacities a reality.

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