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 is more commonly known as Wits University. The university has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines in Kimberley, it is the third oldest South African university in continuous operation, after the University of Cape Town (founded in 1829), and Stellenbosch University (founded in 1866).
In 1959, the Extension of University Education Act forced restricted registrations of black students for most of the apartheid era; despite this, several notable black leaders graduated from the university. It was desegregated once again prior to the abolition of apartheid in 1990. Several of apartheid’s most provocative critics, of either European or African descent, were one-time students and graduates of the university.
The university has an enrolment of 30,833 students as of 2013, of which approximately 18 percent live on campus in the university’s 22 residences. As of 2013, 67.14 percent of the university’s total enrolment is for undergraduate study, with the remaining 30.86 percent being postgraduate.