A new chip has been developed by scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Osaka University in Japan that helps faster transmission speeds for telecommunications.
Researchers have shown that the chip can transmit terahertz (THz) waves resulting in a data rate of 11 Gigabits per second (Gbit/s), which can support 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 a part of the Electromagnetic spectrum. These are in between infrared light waves and microwaves and have been an option as the next frontier of high-speed wireless communications.
Fundamental challenges are yet to be tackled before THz waves could be used reliably. Two issues are:
1. Material defects
2. Transmission error rates found in conventional waveguides such as crystals or hollow cables.
These are being solved using Photonic Topological Insulators (PTI), which allows light waves to be conducted on the surface and edges of the insulators like a train following railroads, rather than through the material.
Light can be redirected around sharp corners, and its flow will resist being disturbed by material imperfections in photonic topological insulators.
The design was made by making a small silicon chip with rows of triangular holes, with small triangles pointing in the opposite direction to larger triangles, light waves become topologically protected.
This chip showed it could transmit signals error-free while routing THz waves around 10 sharp corners at a rate of 11 gigabits per second, bypassing any material defects that may have been introduced in the silicon manufacturing process.
The head of the project , NTU Assoc Prof Ranjan Singh, said that this was the first time that PTIs have been realized in the THz spectral region, thus proving the previously theoretical concept was actually feasible in real life.
This discovery could pave the 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.
This Thz technology can boost intra-chip communications to support AI and cloud-based technologies .
Singh believes that designing and producing a miniaturized platform using current silicon manufacturing processes, their new high-speed THz interconnect chip will be easily integrated into electronic and photonic circuit designs and will help the widespread adoption of THz in the future.
Areas of potential application for THz interconnect technology will include data centres, IoT devices, massive multicore CPUs (computing chips) and long-range communications, including telecommunications and wireless communication such as Wi-Fi.
Yang, Y., Yamagami, Y., Yu, X. et al. Terahertz topological photonics for on-chip communication. Nat. Photonics 14, 446–451 (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41566-020-0618-9