Most of us are familiar with the Noise-cancelling technology; it’s mostly used in Headphones and Cell phones nowadays. The basic mechanism behind is that, there is a microphone on the device that picks up irrelevant noise from your surroundings, that are in the range of your ears, and then sends out inverse set of those sounds to cancel them out.
Researchers are trying to implement this with fiber optic cable Internet, which uses light waves to transmit data. A lot of power is required for the transmission of data and to make it fast and this results in ‘noise’ that would otherwise slow down internet speeds and reliability.
Researchers found out that if extra twin light beam is sent down the fiber optic cable along with the original data beam, this noise can be cancelled, as the light waves will pick up the noise and cancel it out. And much higher internet speeds can be obtained. These speeds can get up to 400 times faster than Google Fiber that allows data transmission at 1 gigabit per second.
BBC News recently reported that the research team led by Xiang Liu of Bell Laboratories used this noise cancelling technique, called phase conjugation, to send a signal of 400 gigabits per second through 12,800 km of fiber optic cable. For perspective, Google Fiber offers its subscribers 1 gigabit per second, and the length Liu’s team sent that signal is longer than the transoceanic fiber links. Imagine how fast internet will be then!
Simplified, the team has achieved a way of significantly boosting the signal to noise ratio in an optical fiber communication system by sending two versions of the signal whereby one is a mirror image of the other. As the signal travels, noise picked up along the way affects both waves differently, Noise that affects one wave in some manner will affect the other wave in an inverse manner. When the two waves are received at the far end of the signal path, the waves are superimposed on one another again to form a single wave – and the noise picked up along the way cancels itself out, hence the data wave is not affected.
Explaining the project, Xiang Liu of Bell Laboratories said, “At the receiver, if you superimpose the two waves, then all the distortions will magically cancel each other out, so you obtain the original signal back,” Liu told the BBC. “This concept, looking back, is quite easy to understand, but surprisingly, nobody did this before.”
He also said, ‘Nowadays everybody is consuming more and more bandwidth – demanding more and more communication, we need to solve some of the fundamental problems to sustain the capacity growth.’