We live constantly surrounded by information communication systems such as the WiFi wireless networks or expected 5G. All of them have failures, either due to lack of coverage or data transmission capacity, but perhaps what we most dislike is the slowness when loading content. For this reason, we tend to resort to a wider bandwidth as offered by fiber optic technology, although present difficulties in installation or interference. Data consumption is the order of the day, and new formulas are sought to improve the performance of our networks.
An international team of telecommunications engineers has taken an important step towards high-capacity wireless data transmission. The use of braided light, as the researchers themselves call it, could make the optical fiber obsolete.
The report entitled “Propagation in free space of high-dimensional structured optical fields in an urban environment” was published on Thursday, October 26 in the journal Science Advances, explains how the “Optical Angular Moment” (OAM) could overcome the current difficulties of interference using “braided” light in open spaces. The research has been carried out by a team made up of physicists from the United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand and Canada.
What is “braided” light?
The conventional types of networks use photons to transport the
Information in the form of ones and zeros. Thanks to the angular optical moment, photons are given a certain number of interlaced turns, which allows photons to carry additional data. If before they were only capable of transmitting ones and zeros, now it will be possible to incorporate letters next to the binary code.
These telecommunications engineers have been able to “braid” the photons by passing them through a special type of hologram, similar to that of a credit card, giving each photon a certain turn. This phenomenon is known as optical angular momentum (OAM). The ability of braided photons to carry additional information involves evolving communications technology to a bandwidth greater than fiber optic.
The Dr. Martin Lavery, Director of the Research Group Photonics Structured Glasgow University and lead author of the research paper, wanted to explain that: “At a time when our global data consumption is growing at an exponential rate There is a pressure to discover new methods of transporting information that can keep up with the great acceptance of data around the world.”
The investigation of the possible next generation of telecommunications by wireless networks was undertaken by Dr. Lavery together with a team made up of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light and the Institute of Optics (Germany), from the University of Otago (New Zealand), University of Ottawa (Canada) and the University of Rochester (United Kingdom).
Interference problems and their study
This optical angular momentum technique has already been used to transmit data through cables, but at the time of making such information transmission through open spaces has been a much greater challenge for scientists. Changes in atmospheric pressure scatter light and cause the information of turns to be disordered. The group of telecommunications engineers examined the effects and intensity of OAM that transported light in an urban environment to evaluate the viability of this method of quantum information transfer.
The experiments were carried out in Erlangen, Germany. This space was 1.6 km long, crossed fields and streets with high-rise buildings to accurately simulate an urban environment and atmospheric turbulence that could interrupt the transfer of information in a real way.
The fact of carrying out this series of tests within this context has revealed new challenges that must be overcome before the system can be commercialized. Previous studies had indicated the feasibility of OAM communication systems, but they had not characterized the effects of adverse weather conditions in the light propagation phase.
Dr. Lavery has stated: “This communications system is a solution that can provide us with the bandwidth of the optical fiber, but without the need for physical wiring, which is why it is presented as a more economical and accessible alternative to fiber optic connections. Buried optical fiber, has the potential to transform access to the line for developing countries, defense systems and cities around the world”
The turbulent atmosphere used in this experiment revealed the fragility of the technology particularly for those requirements that would be essential for high- bandwidth data transfers. But Dr. Lavery will not give up and added: “With these new developments we can rethink our approaches, and remodel the channels and requirements of adaptive optics systems. “We are getting closer and closer to developing OAM communications in a real urban environment.”
These findings allow the international team of researchers to address the new challenges presented by the new optical telecommunication method to be able to perform this type of information transfer through wireless networks in free space, and which aims to replace fiber optics as a functional mode of communication in urban environments and telecommunication systems.