NTU Singapore and Osaka University scientists have built a new ultra-high-speed Terahertz wireless chip surpassing 5G speeds.
The new chip which is based on the concept called Photonic Topological Insulators (PTI), can transmit terahertz (THz) waves in a data rate of 11 Gigabits per second (Gbit/s).
It is capable of supporting real-time streaming of 4K high-definition video, and exceeds the hitherto theoretical limit of 10 Gbit/s for 5G wireless communications.
THz waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and are said to be in between infrared light waves and microwaves.
Though touted as the next big thing in high-speed wireless communications, THz waves are plagued by material defects and transmission error rates usually found in conventional waveguides such as crystals or hollow cables.
To overcome this, the NTU-Osaka team utilized Photonic Topological Insulators (PTI), which allows light waves to be conducted on the surface and edges of the insulators – akin to a train following railroads, rather than through the material.
When light travels along photonic topological insulators, it can be redirected around sharp corners and its flow will resist being disturbed by material imperfections.
According to the scientists, designing a small silicon chip with rows of triangular holes, with small triangles pointing in the opposite direction to larger triangles, causes the light waves to become ‘topologically protected’.
The all-silicon chip has so far demonstrated error-free transmission while routing THz waves around 10 sharp corners at a rate of 11 gigabits per second.
It has also bypassed any material defects that may have been introduced in the silicon manufacturing process.
According to project lead and NTU associate professor Ranjan Singh, this was the first time that PTIs have been realized in the terahertz spectral region.
Their discovery could pave way for more PTI THz interconnects – structures that connect various components in a circuit – to be integrated into wireless communication devices, to give the next generation ‘6G’ communications an unprecedented terabytes-per-second speed (10 to 100 times faster than 5G) in the future.
Image and content: NTU Sinagpore