Headphone technology to boost fibre connections

New research claims the same technological theory used to create noise-cancelling headphones could boost connections running over fibre

The process behind technology used to make noise-cancelling headphones could be the key to speeding up fibre connectivity.

This is the claim made by researchers from Bell Labs – the research and development division of Alcatel Lucent – who published a paper in the Nature Photonics journal this week revealing the new technique.

Noise-cancelling headphones detect external noises and emit sound waves to cancel out the flow to the ear. The idea with fibre is to replicate this with light waves – how data is transmitted in fibre – to again cancel out any interruptions.

The method involves separating the single beam of light used for transferring data into two, what the researchers call phase-conjugate beams. 

Running opposite each other, the beams react in the opposite manner to one another, meaning when they are joined together at the end, they make up for the pitfalls caused by any distortion and provide a much stronger signal.

The researchers, led by Xiang Liu, said the technique reduced nonlinear distortions – the most common cause of performance issues on long-distance fibre links – almost by a factor of 10. This would enable a 400Gbps superchannel with eight pairs of beams to run across a distance of 12,800km, breaking previous records.

The full paper – phase-conjugated twin waves for communication beyond the Kerr nonlinearity limit – can be found here

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