Tapping ‘noise canceling’ data signals for faster Internet
Researchers have found a rather elegant way to improve data speeds on existing fiber technology, according to the BBC.
At the moment, sending data via fiber means blasting a light signal
down the line. The farther you want the data to travel, the more power
you need to put into the light beam. However, higher-power data signals
can actually interact with the material of the fiber line, getting noise
degradation into the signal.
The researchers, working out of Bell Laboratories and led by
Xiang Liu, tried a technique similar to the way noise-cancelling
headphones work to improve the data signal quality across longer
Instead of one light beam, two beams that are mirror images of
each other are sent through the fiber. Each beam will gather noise per
usual, but that distortion will also be mirrored, so when the two beams
are recombined at their destination, the noise is cancelled out.
Speaking to the BBC
Dr Liu said: “At the receiver, if you superimpose the two waves, then
all the distortions will magically cancel each other out, so you obtain
the original signal back.”
The team used this “phase conjugate” technique to implement a
data speed of 400Gbps over a distance of 12,800km. For some perspective,
the current National Broadcasting Network plan in Australia proposes
speeds of around 100Mbps. Read more about the researchers’ work in the
journal Nature Photonics