Pitt Researchers Make Bandwidth Discovery

Tim Camerato March 19, 2012

A University of Pittsburgh research team believes transmitting data through fiber optics could be one thousand times faster.

Dr. Hrvoje Petek, a professor of physics and chemistry at Pitt, and Muneaki Hase, a professor of applied physics at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, partnered to create a fiber optic frequency comb, improving the speed information could travel.

Petek said people use fiber optic technology daily.

“If you are using Fios, your cable TV is coming as an optical signal down an optical fiber,” said Petek. “And so the bandwidth of fiber optical data transmission could increase.”

Fiber optic transmission occurs when optical fibers send signals modulated at a certain frequency. The signals are divided into different colors of light. A single optical fiber can send multiple colors at a bandwidth approaching one terahertz, 1THz.

He said his team increased the speed of data transmission by generating a comb of frequencies separating the colors of light in the optic fiber. With the comb, an optic fiber could deliver bandwidth approaching 100 THz.

Petek said that while technology using optic cables could take advantage of his research, it probably would not apply to mobile technology.

“I would say it’s highly unlikely that somebody’s cellphone would be 1,000 times faster,” said Petek. “That would take a lot more energy and would probably cause the phone to overheat.”

The research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.