Wired Connectivity

High-Speed Terahertz Modulator Could Lead to New, Powerful Wireless Devices

19 January 2017

The terahertz (THz) band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which enables wireless transmission of data at speeds faster than conventional technology, holds significant interest because of the possibility to harness the technology to build new, more powerful wireless devices.

A chip-sized terahertz modulator could lead to faster data transmission. Source: Tufts University A chip-sized terahertz modulator could lead to faster data transmission. Source: Tufts University Yet, the band has been underutilized because of a lack of compact, on-chip components, such as modulators, transmitters and receivers.

Engineers at Tufts University have made a significant breakthrough by creating a chip-sized, high-speed modulator that operates at THz frequencies and at room temperature at low voltages without consuming DC power.

The engineers believe this modulator could help fill the gap in THz development and could lead to wireless devices that transmit data at significantly higher speeds than what is currently possible.

“This is a very promising device that can operate at terahertz frequencies, is miniaturized using mainstream semiconductor foundry, and is in the same form factor as current communication devices. It’s only one building block, but it could help to start filling the THz gap,” says Sameer Sonkusale, Ph.D., of the Nano Lab, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Tufts University.

How It Works

The modulator showed a modulation cutoff frequency that exceeded 14 gigahertz and has the potential to work above 1 THz. Today’s cellular networks occupy bands that are much lower on the spectrum where the data transmitted is much more limited.

Through the interaction of confined THz waves in a novel slot waveguide with tunable, two-dimensional electron gas, the prototype device operated within the frequency band of 0.22-0.325 THz and has the possibility of working within other bands as well.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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