Orbital angular momentum states may vastly increase fiber’s bandwidth

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(credit: NASA ) We live and die by data these days. Data rates and latencies are everything, with data centers and chips designed to maximize communication speeds. The hero in the world of data is the optical fiber. Thanks to light’s very high base frequency, it is possible to modulate it very quickly without using a huge amount of bandwidth. Optical fiber’s ability to modulate light quickly allows network designers to choose a wavelength band, divide it up into slots, and use each slot to communicate its own data. So a typical fiber will carry several channels, each operating at multi-gigabit-per-second speeds. This approach, already many, many years old, has served us very well. But all good things come to an end. Researchers are always looking for ways to carry more information, and one idea—that one, at the back of the class, ignored by all the other ideas—is to use special states of light to encode information. These orbital angular momentum (OAM) states have the potential to vastly increase bandwidth, but they are difficult to handle. Some recent research, however, suggests that we might well be using OAM states before too long. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Orbital angular momentum states may vastly increase fiber’s bandwidth

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