Science and Engineering
The past decade has seen significant growth in wireless communications. As a result, existing wireless network infrastructures are reaching their maximum capacity, and with the accelerating trends in smart phone usage and in machine-to-machine wireless links, this problem will soon reach a crisis point. To address this challenge, the only viable solution is to increase the carrier frequency in order to access more bandwidth. However, this scaling poses serious scientific and technical challenges. A team at Rice University will solve the most serious of these challenges, enabling the creation of multi-node mobile wireless networks operating in the terahertz range, at a frequency about 100 times higher than that of the existing 4G infrastructure. Many of these same challenges, such as the low power of practical sources and the lack of electronic beam steering capabilities, also inhibit the development of high-speed terahertz imaging systems. Such systems could provide unprecedented capabilities for sensing and chemical identification in applications as diverse as security screening, manufacturing quality control and navigation for autonomous vehicles. This research will lay the ground work for future needs in wireless communications and will also create new possibilities for imaging and sensing systems.
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