Hollow fiber optic cable tops 73Tbps, promises near-light speeds

By on March 26, 2013, 4:30 PM

Researchers hailing from England's University of Southampton claim to have discovered a method for transferring data near the limits of our Universe -- 99.7 percent the speed of light. Their secret? A flexible fiber optic cable with a vacuously hollow interior. The feat promises speeds greater than 73 terabits per second making it thousands of times faster than even the best, existing fiber optic links -- even if only at short distances.

There is no denying that fiber optic cables allow for truly speedy data transmissions. However, even though fiber optic cables serve as an ultra-slippery race track for what is essentially a photonic luge; those photons don't actually travel at the speed of light. Rather, the medium in which those pulses travel -- the optical fiber itself -- slows down photons by as much as 31 percent.

In a vacuum, light travels an astounding 670,616,629 miles per hour (or about 186,282 miles per second). The researcher's hollow-core fiber unleashes the near-full potential of that incredible speed, delivering far lower latency and greater data throughput than conventional fiber.

Here, we report a fundamentally improved hollow-core photonic-bandgap fibre that provides a record combination of low loss (3.5 dB km−1) and wide bandwidth (160 nm), and use it to transmit 37 × 40 Gbit s−1 channels at a 1.54 µs km−1 faster speed than in a conventional fibre. This represents the first experimental demonstration of fibre-based wavelength division multiplexed data transmission at close to (99.7%) the speed of light in vacuum.

Source: Abstract from "Towards high-capacity fibre-optic communications at the speed of light in vacuum"

However, being hollow isn't the new cabling's only special attribute. Researchers had to also devise an incredibly thin, internal "photonic-bandgap" sheathe. This special rim allows photons to follow the curve of the cable, even while it is bent -- purportedly the Achilles heel of past attempts with hollow fiber.

This isn't the first time we've seen impressive numbers generated by scientists working with fiber optics, but it does mark the first time such high speeds have been achieved under specific conditions. Other details, like practical distances and expense were not discussed.




User Comments: 20

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JC713 JC713 said:

This could be huge for 4K.

3 people like this | H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sure could. I say around 20-50 years from now and we will have instantaneous download speeds, or at least in petabyte size! ^^

GO PORN DOWNLOADS WOOOOO wait what!!?!??!

1 person liked this | Win7Dev said:

Fiber optic external hdds and flash drives? Now we just need fast enough storage. Even if we could download at a couple terabytes a second, our current SSDs couldn't even keep up with that when in large raid arrays.

3 people like this | Guest said:

Being able to hit that 250gb isp cap in a split second will be awesome...

GunsAblazin said:

What a no brainier, wonder why it was so hard to do before.

GunsAblazin said:

Sure could. I say around 20-50 years from now and we will have instantaneous download speeds, or at least in petabyte size! ^^

GO PORN DOWNLOADS WOOOOO wait what!!?!??!

LOL, 20 years, I doubt it takes that long. This is the cable company's chance to get the upper hand on Verizon. It might even cost less. Verizon is stocked up with the old crap; they might be compelled to use it all up instead of investing in something new.

Guest said:

This is good for torrents.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sure could. I say around 20-50 years from now and we will have instantaneous download speeds, or at least in petabyte size! ^^

GO PORN DOWNLOADS WOOOOO wait what!!?!??!

LOL, 20 years, I doubt it takes that long. This is the cable company's chance to get the upper hand on Verizon. It might even cost less. Verizon is stocked up with the old crap; they might be compelled to use it all up instead of investing in something new.

Possibly less time is also very viable, technology is moving at a rapid rate. That said as HDD size increase and content size with it, Internet Speed will too so who knows.

tonylukac said:

It is said about the "limits of our Universe" that tachyons can travel faster than the speed of light:

[link]

misor misor said:

"There is no denying that fiber optic cables allow for truly speedy data transmissions. However, even though fiber optic cables serve as an ultra-slippery race track for what is essentially a photonic luge; those photons don't actually travel at the speed of light. Rather, the medium in which those pulses travel -- the optical fiber itself -- slows down photons by as much as 31 percent."

now, if only the researchers could counter that 31% slow down factor.

seriously, wow.

if I could only say, "enterprise, five to beam up!"

herpaderp said:

now, if only the researchers could counter that 31% slow down factor.

Had you thoroughly read the article, you would've encountered this gem: "at close to (99.7%) the speed of light in vacuum."

As in, that's exactly what their experiment did: it (mostly) overcame that ~30% decrease in efficiency when traveling through fiber.

:|

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Now... if only the technology on either side could handle that speed......

1 person liked this | misor misor said:

now, if only the researchers could counter that 31% slow down factor.

Had you thoroughly read the article, you would've encountered this gem: "at close to (99.7%) the speed of light in vacuum."

As in, that's exactly what their experiment did: it (mostly) overcame that ~30% decrease in efficiency when traveling through fiber.

:|

chill up.

I'm not good at math but my statement is meant as a light jab at the researcher's findings of near the speed of light transmission with 31% slow down factor, as if this matters to a "73 terabits per second transmission".

nevertheless, I'm saying, "mr. data, engage!"

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Had you thoroughly read the article, you would've encountered this gem: "at close to (99.7%) the speed of light in vacuum."|
So then the only time it would actually travel at or near light speed is when it entered a person's one ear, and left through the other?

Sure could. I say around 20-50 years from now and we will have instantaneous download speeds, or at least in petabyte size! ^^

GO PORN DOWNLOADS WOOOOO wait what!!?!??!

Not only that, young smut hopper, but it will be in holographic smell-o-vision...!

But the real thrill will be in the fishing documentaries! You'll be able to smell the tuna as they boat it.......

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Now... if only the technology on either side could handle that speed......

Some tech already does exist. The people who require the fastest internet connections available are stock and futures traders in NY and Chicago. They trade futures in Chicago and Stocks in NY, and the prices of futures on the indexes move in relation to the stock exchanges. So when the market goes up in NY they know the price of futures will go up soon after. The person who can see the market change first can trade on the futures in Chicago. They have computers automatically react to the changes because they want to react in milliseconds.

Not only do they use fiber optics, but they make sure it's a perfectly straight route because getting the travel time down from 13ms to 10ms really matters to them. (Speed of light from NY to Chicago would be 4.3ms) If there is new technology to cut the time down, they'll jump on it. They'd love to have London and Tokyo hooked up too.

The funny part is, they don't make very much money doing this. Since so many do it, the margins are fractions of a penny, and they can only make money by buying and selling a ton at once.

JC713 JC713 said:

Being able to hit that 250gb isp cap in a split second will be awesome...

Usually, where there is good infrastructure, like here in the US, caps are history, so this tech could have infinite possibilities without caps.

TJGeezer said:

Now... if only the technology on either side could handle that speed......

Some tech already does exist. The people who require the fastest internet connections available are stock and futures traders in NY and Chicago. They trade futures in Chicago and Stocks in NY, and the prices of futures on the indexes move in relation to the stock exchanges. So when the market goes up in NY they know the price of futures will go up soon after. The person who can see the market change first can trade on the futures in Chicago. They have computers automatically react to the changes because they want to react in milliseconds.

Not only do they use fiber optics, but they make sure it's a perfectly straight route because getting the travel time down from 13ms to 10ms really matters to them. (Speed of light from NY to Chicago would be 4.3ms) If there is new technology to cut the time down, they'll jump on it. They'd love to have London and Tokyo hooked up too.

The funny part is, they don't make very much money doing this. Since so many do it, the margins are fractions of a penny, and they can only make money by buying and selling a ton at once.

Didn't that kind of automated trading result in a major crash, back in the not too dim past? Something about the herds of software programs all doing the same things at the same time. A tidal effect, more or less.

Of course, a software-based crash pales in comparison with what armies of Wall St. swindlers and corrupt bankers accomplished later. (If "accomplished" is the right word.)

MilwaukeeMike said:

Didn't that kind of automated trading result in a major crash, back in the not too dim past? Something about the herds of software programs all doing the same things at the same time. A tidal effect, more or less.

Of course, a software-based crash pales in comparison with what armies of Wall St. swindlers and corrupt bankers accomplished later. (If "accomplished" is the right word.)

Yes, it caused the markets to go down for like a day, I wouldn't call it a major crash. I don't think either of us would have trouble remembering it if it were a major crash.

If the other thing you're talking about is the burst of the real-estate bubble and the following recession, then you should apply the 'blame' to the right people. The problem was the overwhelming belief that home values always go up, which pretty much includes everyone. Home owners were borrowing far too much (look up a 2/28 ARM) and planning on refinancing when home values went up. So their guilty of over-extending themselves. Lenders are guilty of lending them money, the mortgage companies were guilty of missing the risk involved in grouping many of those mortgages together. and finally AIG was guilty of insuring those bad investments (see credit-default swap).

What finally kicked off the landslide were home buyers saying to themselves, 'you know, I think $600,000 is too much for a 1500 sq ft, 3 bedroom home' Home values stop going up, so the owners with huge mortgages can't refi and forclose, then the securities backing them become more risky and/or go under, and AIG and others like Lehman Bros lose everything.

If it makes you feel better, those so-called 'corrupt bankers' lost the most. A few were smart enough to figure it out and run, but I wouldn't call them greedy or corrupt, because they made far less in the time leading up to the crash. It wasn't their fault no one listened to them.

unloco101 said:

Cool story bro.... You gunna sit down to dinner with the fam and discuss how you informed the world of stuff we already knew?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Cool story bro.... You gunna sit down to dinner with the fam and discuss how you informed the world of stuff we already knew?

The discussion should be about egotistical!!

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