20 Gigabit Per Second Transfer Rate Achieved with Lasers

Paul Lilly

Commercial wireless systems, which top out at hundreds of megabits per second, still have a ways to go before being on the level of optical fiber, which boasts tens of gigabits per second. Looking to close that gap, engineers at Battelle, a research and development firm based in Columbus, OH, have found a way to send data through the air using millimeter-wave technology.

Achieving faster speeds by harnessing the millimeter-wavelength frequency of the wireless spectrum isn't new, but it is both expensive and complex due to the equipment involved to generate the signal. Or at least it used to be. The Battelle team has taken off-the-shelf telecommunication components and, by modulating data on two low-frequency laser beams, has been able to create a pattern of interference that acts as a 100GHz signal (millimeter-wave technology operates on frequencies between 60GHz and 100GHz). By doing so, the team demonstrated a 20 gigabit-per-second signal in its lab.

While the research looks promising, a shipping product could still be years away. Putting the system together using existing components has helped to break through the cost barrier, but the new challenge will be to create a smaller device that's less unwieldy.

Image Credit: Battelle

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