High frequencies allow transmitter to be printed on special IC

A pair of top German research institutions has shown impressive early gains in an effort to improve wireless broadband with speeds that would allow the download of a DVD in a single second.  In a test Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (FIAF) and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) showed a integrated circuit achieving data uplink speeds of 40 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) (at 240 Gigahertz (GHz)) -- roughly 137 times faster than the current 802.11n standard, which supports speeds of up to 300 Megabits-per-second (Mbps).

The active transmitter and receiver design fits on a 4 x 1.5 mm integrated circuit (IC), designed using special transistors with high-carrier mobility (HEMTs).  The trick to the tiny size is the high frequencies -- the circuit operates in the 200-280 GHz band.

Top German electronics firms like Siemens AG (ETR:SIE) and KATHREIN-Werke KG are assisting on the project, eager to commercialize the design.

The new transmitter is printed on a tiny IC chip. [Image Source: KIT]

Aside from the terrific form factor -- which makes the new chip amenable to tablets, smartphones, laptops, and other mobile form factors -- the antenna also has excellent signal fidelity.  In a larger long-range demonstrator (think routers), a signal was routed between two skyscrapers that were a kilometer (0.62 miles, for the metric-challenged) apart.

Professor Jochen Antes of KIT comments that the new design shows low attenuation in this frequency range, which enables broadband directional radio links.  He comments, "This makes our radio link easier to install compared to free-space optical systems for data transmission. It also shows better robustness in poor weather conditions such as fog or rain."

Super WiFi
The Germans shot the signal between skyscrapers in a test. [Image Source: KIT]

Some modems for the 802.11ac standard are already coming out.  The new standard supports transfers of up to 1 Gbps for multi-station throughput and 500 Mbps for single-station throughput.  Backwards compatible with the 2.4 GHz 802.11n, the pending new standard uses the 5 GHz band.  It is currently in Draft 5.0 and is expected to receive early approval from the 802.11 Working Group by 2014.

A high-throughput fiber network would back the next-generation Wi-Fi project in Germany.  The project is dubbed "Millilink" and is funded by a €2M ($ M USD) grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Source: KIT

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