Optical breakthrough to power video networks

Scientists at the University of Southampton have demonstrated a device that could “significantly” boost the capacity and efficiency of long range optical networks.

Optical breakthrough to power video networks

According to the researchers – part of the European PHASORS project – the breakthrough involved reducing line noise in the system, allowing data to travel further without the need to switch it back into electronics signals, which slows it down.

“This is important because now we can send information more efficiently because this device cleans the signal without changing it into electronic signals, so we’re no longer restricted by the electronics process, which is much slower than optics,” Periklis Petropoulos, a researcher from the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre, told PC Pro.

“So far we have demonstrated this to 40Gbits/sec, which is as fast as the fastest commercial electronics, but this could go much faster.”

By developing the first “practical phase sensitive amplifier and phase regenerator” device, the scientists demonstrated that they could make the most of a potential step change in optical data transmission.

Optical networks are currently limited by “phase noise” from optical amplifiers and “cross talk” interference from other optical signals in the same network.

Traditionally these issues have been overcome by passing optical signals through an electronic processor at relay points to clean the signal and generate a replica, which is passed back into fibre.

The new device relies on changing the way equipment interprets light waves, Petropoulos said.

According to the scientists, the technology will be increasingly in demand as more video content is being consumed globally, which means networks are under greater pressure to perform.

Petropoulos said the project remained in the development stage, but would be a natural requirement in future networks if they were to match growing demand for capacity.

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