Engineers from Monash University, Swinburne University, and RMIT in Australia put to the test a tiny device called a micro-comb that could one day replace existing internet infrastructure. Experts believe that this device can hit new crazy highs of download speeds that can give millions of people enough data even during the busiest periods.

The engineers' test showed that the device has data rates of 44.2 terabits per second, all emitted from a single light source. This concept was already invented ten years ago, but it is only appreciated now as a way to slim down and speed up the technology being used for the internet because of the rising pressure on the data highways.

David Moss, Director of the Optical Sciences Centre at Swinburne University, said: "This work represents a world-record for bandwidth down a single optical fiber from a single chip source, and represents an enormous breakthrough for part of the network which does the heaviest lifting."

Rising Demands of the Internet    

According to Science Alert, the engineers claim that the chip can make the most of existing infrastructure to meet the demands of the consumers that is expected in the coming years.

Since the Australian government's decision in 2013 to not run optical fibre directly to its citizens' houses, the development of its own copper-based, multi-technology-mix national broadband network (NBN) has come under fire.

Many believe that it was a questionable call and that it failed to protect the future of the internet against rising demands. As people try to squeeze countless Zoom meetings and TV show episodes through networks of copper and optical fiber, this concern has only been reinforced by the pandemic crisis that has heightened data consumption habits.

There is a pressing concern that current systems will struggle in the coming years, but replacing highways of ageing cables to keep up with the demands are expensive and time-demanding.

Meanwhile, components such as one of those that are currently in use to generate the frequencies of light that carry bits and bytes down the cables into the computers and smart devices can be upgraded to improve the flow of traffic.

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New technology allows lasers shining at different frequencies to create a multitude of channels to cram information into the tiny refracting tubes. It depends on the way light is spaced, 80 channels can be created into the network for all the data needs.

This could replace existing methods for creating many channels, exchanging 80 separate lasers for a single crystal waveform generator that can be adjusted to shape a rainbow of light waves.

Potential speed of 44.2 terabits per second to download 1,000 HD movies in a second

On paper, it looks ideal, but to test the theory, the researchers connected a prototype of the device to more than 76 kilometers (47 miles) of dark optic cable between two Melbourne University campuses.

The researchers found that they could stretch the amount of data for each channel, demonstrating a potential top speed of 44.2 terabits per second that can download 1,000 high definition movies in a second, theoretically speaking.

Though the reality is not as shiny as downloading all Netflix movies in a blink, but with other potential improvements to the technology behind the internet, even moderate jumps of several terabits per second over short distances are already a significant development to look forward to in the future.

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