Researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have set a new world record for the data transfer rate using a single laser at 26 terabits per second. At this speed you can send data of 1000 HD DVDs through an optical fibre in just one second. 😉
The technique used is known as Fast Fourier Transform, that produces a laser beam at very high rate with data encoded in 325 distinct colours of light. (You can learn more about this technique in the journal Nature Photonics)
To send Terabits of data, it is encoded onto different light colours and sent over a fibre optic channel. At the receiving end, a detector is used to distinguish between the various colored data streams, based on tiny differences in arrival time and recombine them into a high-speed streams of 1’s and 0’s.
This technology could soon be making its way into commercial use, even though its a bit complex, by integrated it onto silicon chips.
Think of all the tremendous progress in silicon photonics. Nobody could have imagined 10 years ago that nowadays it would be so common to integrate relatively complicated optical circuits on to a silicon chip.