internet
  • A team of researchers has demonstrated the performance and feasibility of micro-comb chips.
  • The team broke the world’s internet speed record from a single optical chip.
  • Australia will benefit from this technology hugely, as the country is having real trouble with its internet infrastructure.

A team of researchers at Monash University in Australia has achieved a new internet speed record, reaching 44.2 terabits per second (Tbps). The data passed through a single optical chip, so the record concerns the single-source category. To put this speed into perspective, the internet connection set up for this record-breaking test could have downloaded about 300 million documents in a second or roughly eleven thousand FHD movies. This is nothing like what we’re using today. The fastest commercial internet speeds in the world right now are just over 52 Mbps in South Korea, and between 40 and 50 Mbps in Canada, Norway, and the Netherlands.

The Monash team believes that micro-comb chips that feature ultra-dense optical data transmission lines are the future, and the community has been trying to prove their feasibility for about a decade already. This recent test is what the team calls a “sneak-peek” of what the internet infrastructure could look like three years from today, and how technologies that were considered experimental thus far could now be incorporated into the backbone of national and international networks.

The researchers used the 4 THz bandwidth point to simulate peak internet usage, and the local infrastructure was the only thing that limited the 44.2 Tbps data speed. This is impressive for both the micro-combs and the local infrastructure, as the test proves that there’s a huge overhead for telecommunications engineers to cover. It is important to point out that the country is not using optical fiber. In 2013, Australia decided to implement its own copper-based network, which was a hugely controversial decision. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the stress that the increased internet use had on the existing infrastructure made it clear that a fundamental solution would be required.

The Monash researchers are offering a feasible solution with their project. They run the data between two Melbourne university campuses, through “dark” optic cable, and over a distance of 76 kilometers (47 miles). If the project proceeds further – and we don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t – the first implementation of micro-comb chips would be in data centers and other critical communication highways. For Australia, it will be like opening a dripping tap and experiencing the downpour of a waterfall. Obviously, this is not just about the down, as the whole world has to benefit from such tech.