Breakthrough could lead to ultra-fast Wi-Fi

Breakthrough could lead to ultra-fast Wi-Fi [Image: mihailomilovanovic via iStock]

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated data transmission through a terahertz multiplexer, a device capable of sending multiple signals through a single channel.

Terahertz transmissions are about 100 times faster than the optimal transmission rate currently used by network providers and it is hoped that this will lead to ultra-fast WiFi.

The breakthrough, which has been reported in Nature Communication, will allow for data to be transferred faster. According to the researchers, current voice and data networks use microwaves to carry signals wirelessly. Demand for data transmission is increasing, threatening to overwhelm microwave networks.

They reported the transmission of two real-time video signals through the terahertz multiplexer at an aggregate data rate of 50 gigabits per second, which is roughly 100 times the optimal data rate of today’s fastest network.

Daniel Mittleman, professor at Brown University’s School of Engineering and the paper’s corresponding author, said: “We showed that we can transmit separate data streams on terahertz waves at very high speeds and with very low error rates.

“This is the first time anybody has characterized a terahertz multiplexing system using actual data, and our results show that our approach could be viable in future terahertz wireless networks.”

Terahertz waves have higher frequencies than microwaves, which gives them significantly more capacity to carry data. However, scientists have not long been experimenting with these frequencies. Many of the basic components necessary for terahertz communication don’t exist yet.

The researchers plan to continue developing terahertz components. Prof Mittleman recently received a license from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to perform outdoor tests at terahertz frequencies.

He said that business will be reluctant “to develop terahertz technologies until there’s a serious effort by regulators to allocate frequency bands for specific uses,” so it’s important that national bodies, like the FCC, consider this.