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Engineers Set New Laser Data Transmission Speed Record

Laser beam pointed at camera (Nayu Kim)Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany have transmitted the largest data volume ever on a laser beam, the equivalent of 700 DVDs in one second. The team’s findings appear online in the journal Nature Photonics (paid subscription required).

The KIT scientists, led by electronics professor Juerg Leuthold, encoded data at a rate of 26 terabits per second on a single laser beam, transmitting them over a distance of 50 km, and decoding them successfully. One terabit is equal to 1012 bits or 1,000 gigabits.

The transmission used a new data encoding process based on optical calculations at the highest data rates, to break down that high data rate to smaller bit rates that can then be processed electronically. This first optical reduction of bit rates was required, since no electronic processing methods exist for a data rate of 26 terabits per second.

Leuthold’s team applied the orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) for record data encoding, a technique used successfully in mobile communications technologies such as DSL, WiFi, and WiMAX. It is based on Fast Fourier Transform mathematical algorithms. According to the WiMAX Forum, OFDM achieves high data rate and efficiency by using multiple overlapping carrier signals instead of just one.

The 26 terabits-per-second results set a new high-speed data transmission record, held previously by Leuthold. Last year he and colleagues at KIT first exceeded a data transfer rate of 10 terabits per second.

Read more: Prof. Develops Open-Space Laser Transmission Technology

Photo:  Nayu Kim/Flickr

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