Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Scientists have set a new record for stable laser transmission, successfully sending laser signals from one point to another without interference from the atmosphere.
The record transmission was made possible by a new "phase-stabilization" technology, which utilizes free-space, self-guiding optical terminals featuring mirrors to combat interference issues like phase noise and beam wander.
The technology -- developed and tested by a team of researchers in Australia and France -- was detailed Friday in the journal Nature Communications.
"We can correct for atmospheric turbulence in 3D, that is, left-right, up-down and, critically, along the line of flight," lead study author Benjamin Dix-Matthews said in a news release.
"It's as if the moving atmosphere has been removed and doesn't exist. It allows us to send highly-stable laser signals through the atmosphere while retaining the quality of the original signal," said Dix-Matthews, a doctoral student at the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research and the University of Australia
Scientists created the technology to perform high-precision measurements.
For example, the laser transmission system could be used to measure the flow of time across two separate locations, allowing scientists to test Einstein's theory of relativity.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Einstein became one of the first to challenge Isaac Newton's absolute notion of time.
Einstein showed that the experience of time depends on speed. The faster a clock moves through space, Einstein theorized, the slower it ticks.
"If you have one of these optical terminals on the ground and another on a satellite in space, then you can start to explore fundamental physics," said co-author Sascha Schediwy, senior researcher with ICRAR-UWA.
But more than probe physics theories, the record-setting laser transmission system could boost satellite and radio communication technologies, as well as support the study of various geophysical phenomena.
"This technology could improve satellite-based studies of how the water table changes over time, or to look for ore deposits underground," Schediwy said. "Our technology could help us increase the data rate from satellites to ground by orders of magnitude. The next generation of big data-gathering satellites would be able to get critical information to the ground faster."