Researchers at the University of Glasgow have found a way to remove the cables from the picture altogether. For wireless transmission of data using a light beam, they can ‘twist’ photons to stuff more data and also withstand atmospheric hurdles such as air turbulence.
The twisting of photons (changing their optical angular momentum in scientific terms) is done by passing them through a special hologram. This also allows photos to carry additional data other than 0s and 1s which would help in the creation of higher-bandwidth communication modes.
But sending twisted light through open spaces isn’t as easy as it sounds. The researchers have tested their tech over a 1.6-km long free-space link in Germany where the light beam had to pass above fields and near high-rise buildings. And it can be assumed that the light beam could withstand real-life urban environments if the phase and intensity are accurate, making long-distance data transfer easier and cheaper.
Optical angular momentum-based implementations have been done for cables in the past. But there are challenges involved to make this wireless technology a reality, including weather like snow or rain. The successful transmission of the light is a complex and essential concern here.
And it would also be very difficult to transmit light in homes. So, using it as a last-mile solution in networks would be a good move; it could reduce the need of running wires throughout cities and towns.
The research titled, “Free-space propagation of high dimensional structured optical fields in an urban environment,” has been published in the Science Journal.