Wild lighting is no longer just for discotheques and laser tag – it has the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate.
Researchers at the University of Southern California have found that when they combine twisted beams of light, they can transmit data at a startling speed – over 85,000 times faster than standard broadband cable. To put it in perspective, at that speed you could transmit 70 full-length DVDs in a single second.
How does it work? Alan Willner, an electrical engineering professor at USC explained it in the Nature Photonics journal in June, and I’ll explain it now.
Light is just a group of photons that the researchers could direct in infinite ways at very high speeds. The study employed beam-twisting “phase holograms” to coax the beams of light into helical shapes as they spread in free space. Each beam, twisted in a unique way, was encoded with “1” or “0” data bits, making each beam an autonomous data stream – much like different radio channels.