Compact amplifier may revolutionize optical communication

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Compact amplifier may revolutionize optical communication (Image: Pexels)
Compact amplifier may revolutionize optical communication (Image: Pexels)

New Delhi : Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have presented a compact amplifier that can revolutionize both space and fiber communication.

The new amplifier offers high performance, is compact enough to integrate into a chip just millimeters in size, and -- crucially -- does not generate excess noise.

"This could be compared to switching from older, dial-up internet to modern broadband, with high speed and quality," says Professor Peter Andrekson, Head of the Photonics Laboratoryat the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience at Chalmers.

Optical communication is helpful in sending information over long distances. The technology will help in better space communication and in fiber optic cables for internet traffic.

With communication based on light, rather than radio waves, we could, for example, quickly send high-resolution images from Mars. Optical communication also allows us to use the internet around the world -- whether the signal is transferred in optical fiber cables under the seabed or transmitted wirelessly.

Because the light -- carrying the information between two distant points -- loses power along the way, a large number of optical amplifiers are needed. Without amplifiers, up to 99 percent of the signal in an optical fiber cable would disappear within 100 kilometers.

The new amplifiers are smaller in size and have better range making them cost effective to use.

They also work in a continuous wave (CW) operation rather than a pulsed operation only.

"What we demonstrate here represents the first CW operation with an extremely low noise in a compact integrated chip. This provides a realistic opportunity for practical use in a variety of applications. Since it's possible to integrate the amplifier into very small modules, you can get cheaper solutions with much better performance, making this very interesting for commercial players in the long run," says research leader Peter Andrekson.

The new results also open doors to completely new applications in both technology and science, explains Peter Andrekson.

"This amplifier shows unprecedented performance. We consider this to be an important step towards practical use, not only in communication, but in areas including quantum computers, various sensor systems and in metrology when making atmospheric measurements from satellites for Earth monitoring."