Feb 21, 2021

Increasing optical data transmission speed

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

Pulsed lasers repeatedly emit light for a short period of time as if blinking. They have the advantage of focusing more energy than a continuous wave laser, whose intensity is kept unchanged over time. If digital signals are loaded in a pulsed laser, each pulse can encode one bit of data. In this respect, the higher the repetition rate, the more the amount of data that can be transmitted. However, conventional optical-fiber-based pulsed lasers have typically had a limitation in increasing the number of pulses per second above the MHz level.

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced that the research team led by Senior Researcher Dr. Yong-Won Song at the Center for Opto-Electronic Materials and Devices was able to generate at a rate at least 10000 times higher than the state of the art. This achievement was accomplished by inserting an additional resonator containing graphene into a fiber-optic pulsed– oscillator that operates in the domain of femtoseconds (10-15 seconds). The data transmission and processing speeds are expected to increase significantly by applying this method to data communications.

The KIST research team noted that the characteristics of the wavelength and intensity of laser light that change over time are correlated (Fourier transform). If a resonator is inserted into the laser oscillator, the wavelength of the pulsed laser is periodically filtered, thereby modifying the pattern of laser intensity change. Based on this background research, Principal Researcher Song synthesized graphene, which has the characteristics of absorbing and eliminating weak light and amplifying the intensity by passing only strong light into the resonator. This allows the laser intensity change to be accurately controlled at a high rate, and thus the repetition rate of pulses could be increased to a higher level.

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