A recent publication found in the Nature Publishing Group’s Nature Photonics, suggests that the same principle behind noise-canceling headphones could be used to boost the speed of fiber optic data. Researchers working at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey claim they have demonstrated speeds of 400Gps.

One draw back to fiber optics is the distance and amount of data that the light is able to carry in relation to its signal power.  To send the data farther, more power must be sent through the cable, but thisextra light affects the other signals around it by bleeding through and creating noise.  For obvious reasons, this extra noise limits how much data can be transmitted and how far.

Researchers just recently demonstrated that the technology behind noise canceling headphones could essentially be used with fiber optic transmission technology.  The research team working at Bell Laboratories, and led by a Dr. Xiang Liu, found that by sending dual light beams through a fiber optic cable carrying the same data, they were able to eliminate most of the noise carried during normal transmissions.

The technique works by borrowing from a similar technique used with sound canceling technology.  Light waves act very similar to sound waves with their unique patterns of high and low peaks.  By using what they call a “phase conjugate” beam, they were able to cancel out those peaks superimposing the two waves, and the distortions would cancel each other out.

According to the team, the light beams are able to pick up the extra noise as they arrive at the receiving end where it is cancelled out.  The data also shows that the twin light beams can travel approximately four times father than a single light beam.

Dr. Liu said that using the conjugate beams carrying the same data allowed them to send data four times faster than what Google Fiber offers.  The test results gave them 400Gbps down a fiber optic cable that was 12,800km in length.

Source: Nature Photonics