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This optical chip can help download 1,000 HD movies in a split second

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A team of researchers has recorded world’s fastest Internet speed from a single chip that can help download 1,000 high-definition movies in a split second, at a data speed of 44.2 Terabits per second from a single light source.

The research has the potential to become a game changer at a time when billions of people are working from home and the Internet is under tremendous load.

Researchers from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities successfully tested and recorded the fastest internet data speed from a single optical chip.

Published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, the findings have the potential to fast-track telecommunications capacity worldwide.

The technology has the capacity to support the high-speed internet connections of 1.8 million households in Melbourne, Australia, at the same time, and billions across the world during peak periods.

Such demonstrations are usually confined to a laboratory but, for this study, researchers achieved such data speed using existing communications infrastructure, where they were able to efficiently load-test the network.

They used a new device that replaces 80 lasers with one single piece of equipment known as a micro-comb, which is smaller and lighter than existing telecommunications hardware.

It is the first time any micro-comb has been used in a field trial and possesses the highest amount of data produced from a single optical chip.

“We’re currently getting a sneak-peak of how the infrastructure for the internet will hold up in two to three years’ time, due to the unprecedented number of people using the internet for remote work, socialising and streaming,” said Dr Bill Corcoran, co-lead author and lecturer in electrical and computer systems engineering at Monash University.

And it’s not just Netflix the researchers are talking about here.

“It’s the broader scale of what we use our communication networks for. This data can be used for self-driving cars and future transportation and it can help the medicine, education, finance and e-commerce industries, as well as enable us to read with our grandchildren from kilometres away,” explained Corcoran.

The future ambition of the project is to scale up the current transmitters from hundreds of gigabytes per second towards tens of terabytes per second without increasing size, weight or cost.

“Long-term, we hope to create integrated photonic chips that could enable this sort of data rate to be achieved across existing optical fibre links with minimal cost,” said Distinguished Professor Arnan Mitchell from RMIT.

Initially, these would be attractive for ultra-high speed communications between data centres.

“However, we could imagine this technology becoming sufficiently low cost and compact that it could be deployed for commercial use by the general public in cities across the world,” Mitchell added.

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