Wireless Data Could Move 1000x Faster Thanks To Frequency Combs

That LTE connection may seem lighting-quick compared to the 3G molasses you were used to, but it flows about as fast as glass in the face of the Terahertz bandwidth that the University of Pittsburgh is studying.

Current radio frequency technologies are limited to operating on the Gigahertz range. However, a team led by physics and chemistry professor Hrvoje Petek has demonstrated a method of transmitting data in a portion of spectrum a magnitude higher — operating between infrared and microwave light. The team was able to devise a frequency comb "that spans a more than 100 terahertz bandwidth by exciting a coherent collective of atomic motions [read: oscillations] in a semiconductor silicon crystal." In fact, in their demo, the team achieved oscillations of 15.6 THz.

A frequency comb results from dividing a single colour of light into equally-sized chunks that can be used in numerous applications — such as data transmission. "The ability to modulate light with such a bandwidth could increase the amount of information carried by more than 1,000 times when compared to the volume carried with today's technologies," Petek said in a statement.

The University of Pittsburgh News describes the team's endeavours as such,

To investigate the optical properties of a silicon crystal, Petek and his team investigated the change in reflectivity after excitation with an intense laser pulse. Following the excitation, the team observed that the amount of reflected light oscillates at 15.6 THz, the highest mechanical frequency of atoms within a silicon lattice. This oscillation caused additional change in the absorption and reflection of light, multiplying the fundamental oscillation frequency by up to seven times to generate the comb of frequencies extending beyond 100 THz. Petek and his team were able to observe the production of such a comb of frequencies from a crystalline solid for the first time.

Granted, this technology is still highly experimental but if it does reach market, users will be able to enjoy fiber-optic speeds — wirelessly. Of course, that's assuming Petek's team hasn't yet figured out how to leverage the coherent oscillation of electrons into petahertz (that's a QUADRILLION hertz) frequencies. [University of Pittsburgh - Pitt Lab of Ultrafast Dynamics via PC Mag]

Image: PeterPhoto123 / Shutterstock

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    1. There are already concerns about the safety of wifi. In the same way that mobile phones are suspect.
    2. There are concerns about leakage from microwave ovens.
    3. Infrared would mean 'line of sight' with the transmitter.
    So I say "good luck with getting it to market".

      Agreed. If it ever does get off the ground it's likely to be restricted to wireless backhaul and only if this turns out to be cheaper then current solutions.

      1. Not realistic ones
      2. I am not even going to bother calculating how many orders of magnitude difference there would be between the two.
      3. Yeah, as it stands it would have to be line of sight. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it just limits it to the backbone infrastructure, like VHF/UHF LOS setups now, as an alternative to fibre, not consumer gear for your household wireless network or your mobile.

    15.6THz translates to ~19um. Funnily enough water absorbs radiation in the ranges of 5-8um and anything 19 and above.... Um doctor, I think i see a problem with your idea.

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