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Wi-Fi Moves into Uncharted Territory: the T-ray

Japanese researchers have smashed the record for wireless data transmission, by using the terahertz band, an uncharted part of the electro-magnetic spectrum. The data rate is 20 times higher than that of the commonly used Wi-Fi standard. This Wi-Fi revolution, which would utilise the so called “T-ray” band, could offer huge amounts of bandwidth for data transmission, and change the future of Wi-Fi.

WiFi All-in-One Printer

This evolution follows a long history of Wi-Fi development, which was initially intended for use in cashier systems in 1985. Since this time, Wi-Fi has found a place in various technologies, most notably in the computing world. A Wi-Fi-enabled device connects to the internet through hotspots, which can extend from an area as small as your bedroom to as large as many square miles. Outdoor public Wi-Fi technology has been successfully implemented in many locations worldwide.

Current Wi-Fi technology operates on the radio wave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. As more devices such as the smartphones, tablets and wireless printers become Wi-Fi enabled, and are hungry for higher data rates, this band has become crowded. The band has been further burdened by household appliances being Wi-Fi enabled, from televisions to the kitchen oven!

But this research team may have found a way out of this dilemma—the T-ray band. Despite the name, the band is actually between the frequencies of 300GHz to about 3THZ. It is more commonly known to the medical industry, where it is being looked at as an alternative to X-rays, as it can penetrate materials just as well but with fewer deposits of harmful energy.

T-rays have been on the radar for some time, but the technology required to both generate and detect these T-rays has been too large and costly to implement in devices such as wireless routers and smartphones. But this changed when electronics company ROHM developed a component that is only 1mm squared and demonstrated a 1.5 GB/s transfer rate at a frequency of 300GHz. The Japanese team subsequently demonstrated 3GB/s at 542GHz.

At present, the main drawback to the technology is that it only has a range of 10m, and so will only be available for use in the home. Nevertheless, the band has potential to support data rates of up to 100GB/s. T-ray Wi-Fi has the possibility to remove a significant burden from our current radio wave band, and will no doubt turn the manufacturers of such technology into a frenzy.

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