Scientists create terabit-per-second optical chip

Aussie boffins have demonstrated an optical chip that could yield a terabit-per-second internet connectivity.

Physicist Trung Duc Vo, who is developing the chip at the University of Sydney said that the chip enables optical time division multiplexing (OTDM) which can increase the efficiency and capacity of current optical systems by processing communications optically.

Most fibre networks use an electrical-optical-electrical conversion process. However Vo and Co want to manage a hundredfold increase in network speeds by abandoning the process.

Using a network based at the UoS he has got the beast to work at 1.28Tbps which is 100 times faster than the current networks. He thinks that the speed could be ramped up by another factor of ten.

Vo said electrical-optical-electrical conversion is like driving in heavy traffic, hitting a motorway then driving into heavy traffic once again.

Vo said that while transistors switch on and off and generate heat, photons hardly heat at all and cooling time is a thousand times faster than electronics.”

He thinks his chip is at least five years from being commercially ready, with the researchers planning further improvements to its efficiency.

Currently there also needs to be an investigation into the health effects of the chip’s material, chalcogenide.

If it ever sees the light of day it should cost no more than $100 per chip to manufacture.

You can read details of Vo’s work here.