"In theory one fiber could transport perhaps as many as a hundred different beams, each carrying its own data stream of light flashing on and off. Our challenge is creating the optics to gather those beams, flow them through the fiber together and then separate out each data stream at the other end." states David A. B. Miller, the W. M. Keck Professor of Electrical Engineering.
What makes this possible is a series of breakthroughs in the design and fabrication of optical structures that can combine and separate laser beams based on the shape of the wave they generate.
"We now know how to design those structures using efficient algorithms. Some of our approaches automate the designs and adapt them to changes in the fiber. We have also proved mathematically that such designs can always be created for light beams in fibers."