Networking & Wireless

Researchers at Brown U Develop Terahertz Wireless Multiplexing

A Brown University-led team of researchers has developed a system for multiplexing and de-multiplexing terahertz waves, solving one of the technical challenges of terahertz wireless networking, which could potentially deliver data at rates that are up to 100 times faster than current wireless technology.

Terahertz waves operate at a much higher frequency than the microwaves used in cellular and Wi-Fi communications, and can therefore offer much greater bandwidth. However, there are numerous technical challenges to solve before terahertz wireless can become a reality. This new multiplexing system potentially solves one of those challenges.

Multiplexing is the process of separating streams of data that are traveling through a single medium, such as a single TV cable carrying multiple channels. "Any terahertz communications application is going to need some form of multiplexing and demultiplexing," said Daniel Mittleman, professor of engineering at Brown and senior author of a research paper on the subject, in a prepared statement. "This is, to our knowledge, the first time anyone has demonstrated a viable strategy for multiplexing in the terahertz range."

The terahertz multiplexing system developed by the researchers uses a "leaky wave antenna," which has "two metal plates placed in parallel to form a waveguide," according to information from the university. "One of the plates has a small slit in it. As terahertz waves travel down the waveguide, some of the radiation leaks out of the slit. It turns out that terahertz waves leak out a different angles depending on their frequency." Each frequency can carry a separate data stream, and the data receiver at the other end could pick up an individual stream by accepting radiation at a specific angle.

The researchers published a paper, "Frequency-Division Multiplexing in the Terahertz Range Using a Leaky-Wave Antenna," in Nature Photonics on September 14. The lead author of the paper was Nicholas Karl, a graduate student at Brown.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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