In a mere second, scientists have whisked an unprecedented 26 terabits of information-the equivalent of 700 DVDs or a dizzying 26,000 billion bits on a single laser beam across 50 km.

The world’s biggest feat in data transfer by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) Germany, beats its own global record of sending 10 terabits (10,000 billion bits per second) in 2010.

KIT scientists, led by Prof. Leuthold, attribute their astounding success to a new data process the Institute has developed, called the opto-electric decoding method, reports the Nature Photonics journal.

The method is based purely on calculation at highest data rates in order to break it down into smaller bit rates, which can then be processed electrically. “A few years ago, data rates of 26 terabits per second were deemed utopian even for systems with many lasers. And there would not have been any applications. The challenge was to increase the process speed not only by a factor of 1,000, but by a factor of nearly a million for data processing at 26 terabits per second,” explained Leuthold, who heads the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Electronics and the Institute of Microstructure Technology at KIT.

“Our result shows that physical limits are not yet exceeded even at extremely high data rates,” he added after noting the constantly growing data volume on the internet.

“With 26 terabits per second, it would have been possible to transmit up to 400 million telephone calls at the same time. Nobody needed this at that time. Today, the situation is different,” Leuthold said.

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