Written byRamya Patelkhana ·
In a breakthrough in fiber optics field, researchers discovered a method for reducing cost and energy consumption of high-speed internet connections.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington and University of Vermont created an optical medium where multiple light beams can autocorrect their shapes without affecting each other.
This could help in sending/receiving high-speed data securely at a much lower cost.
Nonlinear-optical effects can be used for processing data at speeds that are over thousand times faster than what could be achieved electronically.
But this process worked only for one optical beam at a time as the nonlinear-optical effects can cause unnecessary inter-beam interactions (crosstalk) when there are multiple light beams.
So, the researchers developed a method for processing multiple light beams simultaneously.
The researchers developed a method for simultaneous nonlinear-optical processing of multiple beams of light by a book-sized device without converting them into electrical form.
Electrical engineering professor at UTA, Michael Vasilyev, and mathematics professor at UVM, Taras Lakoba led the research team.
Vasilyev said, "This experiment opens the opportunities to scale the number of channels to over a hundred without increasing the cost."
Michael Vasilyev, said, "Our new nonlinear medium has allowed us to demonstrate simultaneous all-optical regeneration of 16 wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM: carrying different signals at various wavelengths) channels by a single device, and this number has only been limited by the logistical constraints of our laboratory."
Telecom carriers currently eliminate "the noise accumulated during light propagation in optical communication links," through frequent optoelectronic regeneration.
This involves converting optical-signals to electrical-signals using fast photo-detectors, processing them using silicon-based circuitry.
Electrical-signals are converted back into optical-signals via lasers and electro-optic modulators.
Optical fibers carry over a hundred different signals at various wavelengths; optoelectronic regeneration for each wavelength should be done separately.
As each optical fiber can carry different signals at various wavelengths, telecom carriers need to do optoelectronic regeneration for every wavelength, which increases the cost.
Researchers say this makes the optoelectronic regenerators "large, expensive and inefficient consumers of power."
So, they have created an alternative to this, by "processing the optical signal directly, without converting it to electrical and back."
UTA College of Engineering's Jonathan Bredow said: "Previous efforts to implement nonlinear-optical processing...failed to make an impact because there was no advantage to employing them over electrical signals due to the inability to use more than one channel. Dr. Vasilyev's group has overcome that obstacle."
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