Chip-sized, high-speed terahertz modulator raises possibility of faster data transmission

January 19, 2017, Tufts University
THz waves confined in a novel slot waveguide interact with tunable, two-dimensional electron gas. Credit: Nano Lab, Tufts University School of Engineering

Tufts University engineers have invented a chip-sized, high-speed modulator that operates at terahertz (THz) frequencies and at room temperature at low voltages without consuming DC power. The discovery could help fill the "THz gap" that is limiting development of new and more powerful wireless devices that could transmit data at significantly higher speeds than currently possible.

Measurements show the modulation cutoff frequency of the new device exceeded 14 gigahertz and has the potential to work above 1 THz, according to a paper published online today in Scientific Reports. By contrast, cellular networks occupy bands that are much lower on the spectrum where the amount of data that can be transmitted is limited.

The device works through the interaction of confined THz waves in a novel slot waveguide with tunable, two-dimensional electron gas. The prototype device operated within the frequency band of 0.22-0.325 THz, which was chosen because it corresponded to available experimental facilities. The researchers say the device would work within other bands as well.

Although there is significant interest in using the THz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which would enable the wireless transmission of data at speeds significantly faster than conventional technology, the band has been underutilized in part because of a lack of compact, on-chip components, such as modulators, transmitters, and receivers.

"This is a very promising device that can operate at terahertz frequencies, is miniaturized using mainstream semiconductor foundry, and is in the same form factor as current communication devices. It's only one building block, but it could help to start filling the THz gap," said Sameer Sonkusale, Ph.D., of Nano Lab, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tufts University, and the paper's corresponding author.

Explore further: Electromagnetic wave router could ease the traffic of cellphone signals

More information: P.K. Sing and S. Sonkusale, "High Speed Terahertz Modulator on the Chip Based on Tunable Terahertz Slot Waveguide," Scientific Reports, published online Jan. 19, 2017. DOI: 10.1038/SREP40933

Related Stories

Japan collab transmits record data speeds on terahertz waves

November 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from Japan-based semiconductor manufacturer Rohm, together with a team from Osaka University, have come up with a chip that, in experiments, has achieved a wireless data transmission speed of ...

Graphene is both transparent and opaque to radiation

April 6, 2016

A microchip that filters out unwanted radiation with the help of graphene has been developed by scientists from the EPFL and tested by researchers of the University of Geneva (UNIGE). The invention could be used in future ...

Recommended for you

New study explores cell mechanics at work

June 19, 2018

It's a remarkable choreography. In each of our bodies, more than 37 trillion cells tightly coordinate with other cells to organize into the numerous tissues and organs that make us tick.

The secret to measuring the energy of an antineutrino

June 18, 2018

Scientists study tiny particles called neutrinos to learn about how our universe evolved. These particles, well-known for being tough to detect, could tell the story of how matter won out over antimatter a fraction of a second ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.