Chaotic signals have been proposed as broadband information carriers with the potential of providing a high level of robustness and privacy in data transmission1,2. Laboratory demonstrations of chaos-based optical communications have already shown the potential of this technology3,4,5, but a field experiment using commercial optical networks has not been undertaken so far. Here we demonstrate high-speed long-distance communication based on chaos synchronization over a commercial fibre-optic channel. An optical carrier wave generated by a chaotic laser is used to encode a message for transmission over 120 km of optical fibre in the metropolitan area network of Athens, Greece. The message is decoded using an appropriate second laser which, by synchronizing with the chaotic carrier, allows for the separation of the carrier and the message. Transmission rates in the gigabit per second range are achieved, with corresponding bit-error rates below 10-7. The system uses matched pairs of semiconductor lasers as chaotic emitters and receivers, and off-the-shelf fibre-optic telecommunication components. Our results show that information can be transmitted at high bit rates using deterministic chaos in a manner that is robust to perturbations and channel disturbances unavoidable under real-world conditions.
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Financial support was provided by the European Commission through the IST project OCCULT. We thank ATTICA TELECOMMS SA for providing the installed fibre infrastructure for the field experiment, and S. Hansmann and J. Schumacher for providing the matched laser and detector pairs. We thank S. H. Strogatz for a careful reading of the manuscript. We are also grateful for the collaboration of J. P. Goedgebuer, W. Elsäßer, M. Peil, S. Poinsot, M. Benedetti, S. Merlo, M. Norgia, M. W. Lee, Y. Chembo Kouomou, T. Pérez, R. Vicente, J. Mulet, J. M. Buldú, M. C. Torrent, S. Ortin and the rest of the participants of the OCCULT project.
Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Argyris, A., Syvridis, D., Larger, L. et al. Chaos-based communications at high bit rates using commercial fibre-optic links. Nature 438, 343–346 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04275
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