updated 01:25 pm EDT, Wed May 16, 2012
Japanese researchers break records in the terahertz band
Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have demonstrated transmission speeds of 3Gb/s at 542GHz, the BBC reports. This development could mean greatly increased wireless transmission speeds, up to 20 times faster than 802.11n Wi-Fi transmission rates and slightly faster than the 1.7Gbps speeds that Netgear claims for its new 802.11ac equipment.
In a paper published in the journal Electronics Letters, the researchers demonstrate how they used the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum to achieve the higher data transfer rates. The terahertz spectrum includes frequencies from about 300 gigahertz (60 times higher than the current highest Wi-Fi standard) to about 3THz.
The ability to utilize the terahertz spectrum has until recently been reserved to imaging for research projects, as the equipment necessary to generate radiation in the spectrum is typically bulky and expensive. The new research, though, opens the possibility that the terahertz band may used in wireless data transmission.
The researchers note that terahertz Wi-Fi would probably only work for ranges up to 10 meters, but data transmission within that range would be orders of magnitude higher than current alternatives. The technology demonstrated in the paper is still in the proof-of-principle stage, though, and the team is working to extend its range.
Recent months have seen multiple advances in the use of the terahertz spectrum. In March, a team at the University of Pittsburgh demonstrated a "frequency comb" that could be used to bring terahertz transmission to cellular phones; and in April a team at the University of Texas at Dallas used terahertz radiation to develop a sensor capable of seeing through walls, wood, and plastic.