Georgia Tech researchers propose terabit level graphene antenna

March 7, 2013 by Bob Yirka weblog
Artistic impression of graphene molecules. Credit: University of Manchester

( —Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, led by lab director Ian Akyildiz, are proposing that a graphene antenna could be built that would be capable of transferring data at the 10 to 100 terabit level. In a paper to be published in IEEE's Journal of Selected Areas in Communication, the team will outline how a nano-sized antenna made of graphene could be constructed that would take advantage of the materials' superfast electron transfer properties.

Graphene has been making headlines over the past few years as researchers discover new ways to make use of its unique properties—its one layer of arranged in a offer almost no resistance to electrons which allows for much faster movement of electricity than metal or silicon. In this new research, the team believes it would be possible to take advantage of electron oscillations (plasmonic waves) that occur on its surface, at the terahertz range, to send and receive data. The antenna the researchers envision would be made of strips of graphene approximately 10 to 100 nanometers wide and approximately one micrometer in length.

Such an antenna, the researchers suggest, could transmit 10 of data per second between two devices situated approximately one meter apart. Moving the two devices closer, to just centimeters apart, could bump the rate to 100 terabits of data per second. That would be equivalent to moving all of the data on a full large capacity hard drive to another in about the time it takes to swallow a mouthful of coffee.

Of course there are more factors involved in moving data than just the bus on which it travels—to copy several high definition movies between two cell phones for example, each equipped with a graphene antenna, would require new electronics to retrieve and send the data on one end and process and store it on the other, in a way that could keep up with such . There is also the problem of connecting the graphene sheets that make up the antenna to other electronic components—a stumbling point for other graphene applications as well. Also if the researchers do manage to build a working graphene antenna, there would still be the problem of how to manufacture it in large quantities.

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via TechnologyReview

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1.8 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2013
10 terabit per second. wow. I don't even have a terabyte HD yet.

Sure this will be good for IT industry, I'm just not comprehending what individuals will do with this, since the majority of us are not architects or developers, and there aren't even developers working in the terabyte range yet.

the biggest games are still below 10GB, even after several add-on expansions, and it's not like you really "need" to transfer that much data in one second.

It's always a good thing to have more power, but it's a curious puzzle. Even 3D hologram cameras, that IBM claims will be possible soon, will not be using THAT much data. There's just no way. Even if you recorded minutes or hours of facial holograms, music, and voice, it wouldn't be a terabyte. Not even close.
Fabio P_
5 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2013
@Lurker: Careful. Such predictions have a way of being consistently refuted by reality.
not rated yet Mar 07, 2013

on games -- FFXI is about 30 GB ; WoW if you have everything is around 15~20 GB

The issue with this technology which is glossed over by the article is that storage mediums cannot read or write data that fast.

Take your average hard drive, if you eliminate avg seek time, the read times would have to be as fast as the antenae can send data, and its no where close. same thing with write times,

specs for a fast hard drive are 500 MB/s read and 250 MB/s write

this antenna works at 125,000 MB/s which is over 2.5 orders of magnitude greater

for those of you wondering -- FSB, Front side Bus speeds for the fastest motherboards are around 52 GB/s (hypertransport 3.1)which is 1/3 the speed of the antenna so even if you had all the data in RAM you couldn't use a modern computer to push the data to the antenna fast enough to keep it busy.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2013
I think entire systems are going to be made with advanced technologies, so all of the existing circuitry will be replaced with carbon based circuitry and/or some manner of plasmonics or spintronics.

I'm aware of Warcraft and Final fantasy, though I didn't realize the FF games were getting quite that big yet. Final Fantasy would be an exception, because it is an epic story and you typically have an entire planet's worth of environments, with music, sound effects, game engine, and in the more recent ones the voice acting as well. So yeah, they're bigger than I originally indicated, but even 30GB is not much at all compared to 10terabit per second, especially considering it took an entire development team like a couple years to make that on dozens of computers working together.

10terabit per second seems almost inconceivable for any one company to compile an application or game large enough to even use would take decades to make that application...
5 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2013
I don't think that they are talking about antennas for your individual computer but networks with local wireless distribution to multiple devices.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2013
I don't think that they are talking about antennas for your individual computer but networks with local wireless distribution to multiple devices.

There's no hardware to cache and sort such data as fast as the receiver would be receiving it.

In their experiments they're probably just using one file coming from a single application on one end, and being read by single application on the other. To use this like some sort of hub (like satellites in a cell network) you need the hardware and software to sort all these overlapping messages as fast as they are arriving.

It's not a bad thing to have an antennae that much better than the rest of your hardware, it just means there's nothing that can possibly keep up with it right now. You might even need to slow it down in order to sync it with realistic hardware, which kinda defeats the purpose of the technology...

Anyway, you can't use this to serve data to people without the processors, RAM, and buses being that fast too...
1 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2013
"Graphene has been making headlines over the past few years as researchers discover new ways to make use of its unique properties—its one layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure offer almost no resistance to electrons which allows for much faster movement of electricity than metal or silicon."
Sounds almost as good as a superconductor, but at room temperature. Problems is making them long enough in industrial-scale quantities for electricity transmission....*sigh*.
not rated yet Mar 08, 2013
in about the time it takes to swallow a mouthful of coffee.

They're just messing with us now, right?
5 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2013
To me this sounds like a good way to build an interconnect between CPU and RAM. Just one antenna at each end instead of special bus. With proper shielding one could probably have several cores in one CPU, each having it's own antenna link to dedicated memory. This would circumvent the current bus bottlenects that multicore processors have. So use this for inter-IC communication and it promises to advance tech from current one.
not rated yet Mar 08, 2013
I generate large amounts of data as a user of high end 3D scanning equipment and I find the cutting edge to be very lacking. Yesterday I generated a 2gb point cloud in less than an hour and the project isn't anywhere near done. I have a NAS storage upstairs that I like to backup to but I can only get 54mbps (~6Mb/s) on my 802.11b wireless. That means it takes me at least 6 minutes to backup this session. Systems like these will continue to progress quickly and high resolution CT scanning (single digit micron resolutions, search "micro ct") has the potential to diagnose everything from mechanical faults in equipment to cracked solder joints in computers or even enable brute force fossil discovery. At that stage we will need to do move terabytes around quickly and this sort of thing fits the bill. Discussing the size of todays computer games when considering the need for such technologies is as far from the mark as you can get IMO.
not rated yet Mar 08, 2013
Oops, I meant to say 802.11n ^^^
not rated yet Mar 14, 2013
"in about the time it takes to swallow a mouthful of coffee. "
Usually we see Olympic sized swimming pools of volume, or foot ball sized fields of area. If it goes together we can have the time it takes to swallow a Olympic sized swimming pool of water. Perhaps this would take 3 years of continuous swallowing. :-)

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