Rocket scientists' new wireless tech carries seven Blu-ray disks per second

A new free-space (wireless) data transmission methodology has been reported in Nature magazine's Photonics journal. The technique uses beams that can be visualised as a twisted vortex to pack much more data into the same time frame as a traditional wireless protocol. It is the fastest wireless data transmission method ever recorded, and the 320 Gigabytes per second data rate, is only the start of what is thought possible.

To put that figure into perspective, 320 Gigabytes per second is roughly equivalent to 2.5 Terabits per second, or around seven full Blu Ray disks of data being transmitted each second. Lightware’s recently announced 25G solution can manage 25 gigabits per second per channel, or 1% of what has been demonstrated using wireless vortex beams.

Allan Willner and fellow researchers from the University of Southern California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Tel Aviv University twisted together eight data streams using visible light, which each beam having a slightly different level of twist. The different amounts of twist mean that each beam can be distinguished at the receiving end of the process.

These twisted signals use orbital angular momentum (OAM) to pack much more data into a stream than is presently possible using things like LTE or WiFi. These techniques use the SAM (spin angular momentum) of radio waves to carry data. The best way to think of these two properties, with recourse to some serious physics, is to see SAM as the speed at a body (perhaps the Earth) spins on its axis, and OAM as the rate at which the Earth orbits the Sun.

Whilst Willner and co. used visible light but there is no theoretical reason why streams made up of radio data protocols such as WiFi or LTE couldn’t be twisted in the same way.

It is theoretically possible to introduce an infinite number of twisted streams in the same time domain, leading to an infinite data rate, assuming it becomes possible to twist and decode streams with such a fine degree of accuracy.

Whilst this is all still in the lab, it’s sure to escape in the not too distant future and has some pretty exciting possibilities for wireless transmission of data intensive signals such as high resolution 3D content.