Consumer Peripherals

Researchers Bring Terahertz Communication to Life

09 February 2017

Wireless communication has been on the move for some years now. The idea is to increase the data speeds on a continuous basis. We have had, so far, four generations of mobile technology. The latest in use is the fourth-generation wireless, or simply 4G, that superseded the 3G technology. Most likely, your smart phone is labeled as a 4G device.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)—the United Nations agency that oversees the operation and services of networks—a 3G network can transfer 3.84 megabits per second (Mbit/sec) of data, and a 4G is capable of transferring data at a rate of 100 Mbit/sec. The 5G technology is expected to be over 30 times faster than 4G, but it is not expected to be ready until the year 2020.

This week researchers at Hiroshima University working with a team of engineers from Panasonic Corporation announced the development of a terahertz transmitter (THz) capable of transmitting an astounding 100 gigabits per second, or 0.1 terabit/sec, over a single channel using the frequency range of 290 GHz to 315 GHz. This is more than 30 times faster than the proposed 5G future network! This frequency range lies within the unused band from 275 GHz to 450 GHz. The usage of this terabit band is to be discussed by the ITU at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in a special meeting in 2019.

Last year, the researchers started to use quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) to enhance the data rate. This year, they improved last year’s rate by ten times. "This year, we developed a transmitter with 10 time’s higher transmission power than the previous versions. This made the per-channel data rate above 100 Gbit/sec at 300 GHz possible," said Professor Minoru Fujishima from Hiroshima University. "We usually talk about wireless data rates in megabits per second or gigabits per second. But we are now approaching terabits per second using a plain, simple single communication channel. Fiber optics realized ultra-high-speed wired links and wireless links have been left far behind. Terahertz could offer ultra-high-speed links to satellites as well, which can only be wireless. That could, in turn, significantly boost in-flight network connection speeds, for example. Other possible applications include fast download from content servers to mobile devices and ultra-fast wireless links between base stations," said Professor Fujishima.

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