DARPA Scientists Create Superfast Wi-Fi That Attaches Information to Light Beams

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June 26 2012 4:50 PM

DARPA Scientists Create Superfast Wi-Fi That Attaches Information to Light Beams

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Researchers funded by DARPA have been able to transfer information on beams of light, suggesting the possiblity of an incredibly powerful Internet, and new ways of satellite communication.

Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

In “get this into my house immediately” news, a group of scientists have created a new system for transmitting data that uses light and could be 85,000 times faster than broadband cable.

This super wi-fi, which could be used for everything from satellite communication links to fiber optic cables, employs something called “phase holograms” to manipulate eight separate beams of light so that they can carry “1” or “0” data bits—the building blocks of sending digital information from one place to another.

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The beams, twisted into a DNA-like helical shape, were sent through free space as unique data streams, almost like separate channels on your radio. The transmit speed? 2.5 terabits per second, which Gizmodo describes as the equivalent of seven Blu-ray movies.

Of course, this technology, funded by DARPA and developed by a multinational team of scientists from Pakistan, China, Israel, and the United States, could easily be used for evil. But for now, let’s all just imagine downloading all of the Star Wars films in a blink of an eye—even if we only really want to watch three of them.

Video by Jim Festante.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.

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