Twin-beam signals send data 4x faster than conventional speeds

Many researchers over the years have worked towards increasing data speeds, something that has had breakthroughs in various ways over the years. The latest one involves a method the creators say is a simple concept, but one that – for whatever reason – was never done. By creating mirrored beams of light that cancel out noise, the researchers sent a 400GB/s signal down nearly 8,000 miles of fiber optic cables.

According to the researchers, fast data transfers over long distances is best achieved using two beams of light rather than a single one ran down a fiber optic cable. These twin beams, as they're called, are mirrored images of each other, something that has the added benefit of cancelling out the noise resulting from traveling down the cable. As such, data can be send across long distances.

The merging of the signals is done at the end of the cable, with the noise-cancelling effect being the result of something call phase conjugation. When light beams are sent down the fiber optic, they produce a pattern full of essentially "ups" and "downs" referred to as peaks and troughs. The way phase conjugation works is by forming an inverse of one light beam so that a peak becomes a trough and vice versa. As a result, the noise effects are cancelled out.

While conventional methods would require phase conjugation to be performed using devices located a various places along a cable length regardless of where the cable is located – even the ocean floor – the researchers' method removes that necessity by using the twin-beams method instead, and simply merging them together so that the noise is automatically cancelled out, resulting in a perfect signal.

Such a concept has the prospect of both increasing data speeds and increasing the distances a signal can travel without suffering from the effects of signal noise. Said lead author Dr. Xiang Liu: "Nowadays everybody is consuming more and more bandwidth – demanding more and more communication. We need to solve some of the fundamental problems to sustain the capacity growth."


Image via Ozan Uzel