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‘Twisted Light’ Carries 2.5 Terabits of Data Per Second

BBC News (06/25/12)

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), Tel Aviv University, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a method for using light to carry data.  The researchers used orbital angular momentum (OAM) to create light beams that can carry 2.5 terabits of data per second.  OAM, which only recently has been realized as a viable solution for transmitting data, is used to create light waves with different amounts of twist, like screws with different numbers of threads.  The researchers prepared two sets of four light beams, each with a set level of OAM twist, and each of the eight beams containing their own data stream.  At the receiving end, the process is undone and the single beam is unpacked to yield its eight constituent beams, which combined carry about 2.5 terabits of data per second.  “For situations that require high capacity… over relatively short distances of less than 1km, this approach could be appealing,” says USC professor Alan Willner.  “Of course, there are also opportunities for long-distance satellite-to-satellite communications in space, where turbulence is not an issue.”

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