Usually, terahertz waves are used in spectroscopy or body scanners at airports. But they also offer applications in communication technology. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI have now demonstrated this by demonstrating the real-time transmission of a 4k video in real time using terahertz waves for the first time. They achieved a data rate of up to 100 gigabits per second – which puts the current 4G standard, but also the upcoming 5G technology in the shade.
Terahertz transmissions outperform 5G
Wireless communication networks are becoming increasingly important and need to transfer more and more data. The current mobile radio standard LTE or 4G is not sufficient for this in the medium term. In the meantime, 5G is still under construction and, in addition, also operates in heavily regulated frequency ranges in which not many frequencies are free.
An interesting alternative could be the terahertz radiation, which uses frequencies above 300 gigahertz. Thanks to the short wavelength, even higher transmission rates can be achieved. This was already demonstrated by researchers in 2017, when they set a new record of 100 gigabits per second for wireless data transmission – in current mobile communications standards, a maximum of 1 GBit / s, in practice, they are limited to some 100 Mbit. And even 5G offers a maximum of 10 GBit / s, but in any case will be significantly faster than 4G. However, this could be clearly exceeded with terahertz radiation.
Distance needs to be improved
The current experiment by researchers at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI shows that transmission in the terahertz range can not only handle large transmission rates, but also handle large amounts of data. The team around Robert Elschner first transmitted a 4k video in a kabbellos and in real time by means of tetrahedral radiation between two terminals. For this they developed a special modem along with particularly fast circuits.
In the transmission, the researchers used a carrier frequency of 300 gigahertz and reached a data rate of 100 gigabits per second. The connection remained stable over a longer period of time. " We were able to achieve stable, continuous operation of the system for more than 70 hours. This is a significant milestone for wireless terahertz technology, "says Elschner.
What the researchers definitely have to work on is the range. In the test, the two receiving points were only 60 cm apart. However, the team is confident that they will be able to further increase both the transmission rate and the transmission distance. " By using optimized antennas, we will be able to bridge distances of up to one kilometer. Over short distances, data rates of 400 Gbit / s and more should be achievable. ", Says Colja Schubert from HHI.
Areas of application for terahertz transmission technology would be, above all, device-to-device transmission and ad hoc networks. Assuming appropriate transmission distances, the technology could also provide better connectivity to users in rural areas than with current radio standards.