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Twisted light: New tech can transmit 70 DVDs worth of data per second

A team of researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a data transmission technology capable of moving the equivalent of 70 DVDs in one second. Led by Alan Willner, an electrical engineering professor at USC, the team was able to improve upon existing twisted light technology to achieve throughput speeds of 2.56 terabits per second over a distance of approximately five feet.

“We didn’t invent the twisting of light, but we took the concept and ramped it up to a terabit-per-second,” Willner told The Bunsen Burner. “You’re able to do things with light that you can’t do with electricity. That’s the beauty of light; it’s a bunch of photons that can be manipulated in many different ways at very high speed.”

Willner said that his team’s implementation of the technology involves manipulating “phase holograms” to twist eight beams of light into a DNA-like helix. The resulting hologram is then able to carry data bits — zeroes and ones — independently on each beam at an extremely rapid rate.

According to researchers, the technology has potential applications in high-speed satellite communications, short terrestrial links or even in long-range fiber optic cables such as the ones used by Verizon’s FiOS service or Cablevision’s Optimum Lightpath.

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Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.