The speed and overall quality of online connectivity has come a long way over the years. Some might find it inconceivable that people once relied on tethered choppy dialup tones, especially when compared to the high-quality WiFi outlets we presently utilize. Most researchers and engineers agree we haven’t come close to reaching the ceiling for the performance capabilities of WiFi, but scientists have reportedly made a breakthrough that might have brought us one step closer.
Using a terahertz multiplexer to transmit data, researchers demonstrated a device capable of sending multiple signals through a single channel for the first time. Terahertz transmissions are about 100 times faster than optimal transmission rates currently being used by cellular data network providers. By utilizing microwaves that reach lower frequencies, this breakthrough allows for significantly faster data transfers. Researchers were able to use this new technology to send transmissions of up to 10 gigabits per second, and even managed to boost the transmission to 50 gigabits per second.
“We showed that we can transmit separate data streams on terahertz waves at very high speeds and with very low error rates,” says Professor Daniel Mittleman of Brown University, and corresponding author of the study. “This is the first time anybody has characterized a terahertz multiplexing system using actual data, and out results show that our approach could be viable in future terahertz wireless networks.”
Although the transmission method produced a few minor errors, the researchers proved capable of fixing these flaws using error correction technology already employed in telecommunications. The multiplexer uses a single guideline for simultaneously transmitting both signals, which has a slit cut in its base that may result in the leaking of some signals. The angle they leak from largely depends on the signal’s frequency, so the two won’t interfere with each other. The current angle of the receiver is very important for keeping the error rate down, and will be very important to the design of a full terahertz telecommunication system.
As with every emerging technology, the journey from the lab to homes and businesses of public consumers can be long and tedious. Fortunately, the research team jumpstarted this process by already getting the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) to approve the terahertz frequencies. This breakthrough could one day lead us to WiFi performing at speeds we’ve never experienced before, which could result in conveniences like streaming movies and broadcasts without lagging, improvements in image along with browsing quality, and more.