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Scientists Use “Twisted Light” Wireless Vortex Beams To Carry 2.5Tb Data Per Second

by Adriana Lee | June 26, 2012June 26, 2012 9:00 pm PST

Ever curse at pokey slow Wi-Fi speeds clogging your data throughput? Well those days might be numbered. Seems American and Israeli scientists have cracked a tough nugget, transmitting data at incredible speeds of up to 2.5 terabits — or the capacity of 66+ DVDs or seven Blu-ray movies — per second. This innovative approach uses twisted, vortex beams to create the lightning-fast wireless network, and unlike other methodologies currently under research, says ExtremeTech, this technique could actually be in use some time in the next few years over wireless and fiber-optic networks.

The twisted signals basically use two types of angular momentum (orbital angular momentum, or OAM, and spin angular momentum, or SAM) to pack a single bandwidth with twice as much data than typical transmission protocols, which use SAM alone.

Scientists have cracked how to use the "twist" of waves within a light beam to carry massive amounts of data

The brains behind this belong to Alan Willner and other researchers from the University of Southern California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Tel Aviv University. For the “geekinese” explanation, Extreme Tech describes it thusly:

[They] twisted together eight ~300Gbps visible light data streams using OAM. Each of the eight beams has a different level of OAM twist. The beams are bundled into two groups of four, which are passed through different polarization filters. One bundle of four is transmitted as a thin stream, like a screw thread, while the other four are transmitted around the outside, like a sheathe. The beam is then transmitted over open space (just one meter in this case), and untwisted and processed by the receiving end. 2.5 terabits per second is equivalent to 320 gigabytes per second, or around seven full Blu-ray movies per second…

…For fiber networks, where we still have a lot of spare capacity, this isn’t all that exciting — but for wireless networks, where we’ve virtually run out of useful spectrum, twisted radio waves could provide an instant, future-proof solution.

The next step in this project is to boost the network’s one-meter transmission distance to cover distances of less than a kilometer. While the project heads believe this could work for purposes including satellite-to-satellite data transmission, we’ll be keeping our eye on advances for more terrestrial uses here on the ground.

For the full story, including more specifics on the OAM and SAM manipulations, hit up the source links.

[via ExtremeTech, BBC, Nature Photonics]


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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