African researchers demonstrate a 100x increase in the amount of information that can be ‘packed into light’.
The rise of big data and advances in information technology has serious implications for our ability to deliver sufficient bandwidth to meet the growing demand.
Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) are looking at alternative sources that will be able to take over where traditional optical communications systems are likely to fail in future.
In their latest research, published online today (10 June 2016) in the scientific journal,Nature, the team from South Africa and Tunisia demonstrate over 100 patterns of light used in an optical communication link, potentially increasing the bandwidth of communication systems by 100 times.
The idea was conceived by Professor Andrew Forbes from Wits University, who led the collaboration. The key experiment was performed by Dr Carmelo Rosales-Guzman, a Research Fellow in the Structured Light group in the Wits School of Physics, and Dr Angela Dudley of the CSIR, an honorary academic at Wits.
It was established by an act of parliament in 1945 and is situated on its own campus in the city of Pretoria.
It is the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in Africa and accounts for about 10% of the entire African R&D budget. It has a staff of approximately 3,000 technical and scientific researchers, often working in multi-disciplinary teams.