Researchers make first step towards super-fast terahertz Wi-Fi

14 Sep 2015

A team of researchers has taken the first steps to creating ultra-fast Wi-Fi that is more than 100-times faster than today’s standard, but are some way from having a working prototype.

The Brown University researchers said that they have developed the first system for multiplexing terahertz waves, which enables separate streams of data to travel through a single medium.

The need for such technology has been highlighted by the increased crowding of microwaves used by most modern devices to transfer data, which is gradually becoming too much for networks to handle.

By developing a transmitter capable of sending terahertz waves, it would potentially have a much higher frequency and, therefore, more potential bandwidth.

Publishing its findings in Nature Photonics, the Brown team led by Daniel Mittleman specifically looked at the development of a ‘leaky wave’ antenna made from two metal plates placed in parallel to form a waveguide, one of which has a small slit in it.

An illustration of demultiplexing. Image via Mittleman lab/Brown University

An illustration of demultiplexing. Image via Mittleman lab/Brown University

Spur on further research

When the terahertz waves travel down this waveguide, the radiation leaks out of this slit at different angles, which means more data can be transferred across multiple angles, known as demultiplexing.

Using this approach, the team said that by changing the distance between the two plates it would be possible to adjust the spectrum bandwidth that can be allocated to each channel.

Mittleman explained: “[So], if one user suddenly needs a ton of bandwidth, you can take it from others on the network who don’t need as much just by changing the plate spacing at the right location.”

He goes on to say that while this is still very much in a proof-of-concept stage of development, he hopes it will spur on other researchers to begin looking at the possibility of terahertz Wi-Fi.

“The biggest impact this may have is it may just be the kick that people need to start thinking about this issue,” Mittleman said. “That means they’ll start coming up with clever ideas that are entirely different from this one.”

Wi-Fi in sand image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic