September 30, 2014
Researchers from three international universities working on twisting radio beams for transferring data have achieved transmission speeds of 32 gigabits per second — 30 times faster than current 4G LTE wireless technology. The project, which includes scientists from University of Glasgow and Tel Aviv University, is led by Professor Alan Willner of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. Mobile operators should be interested in the technique to supply faster networks and address congestion created by too many users.
“One property of electromagnetic waves that has been recently explored is the ability to multiplex multiple beams, such that each beam has a unique helical phase front,” explains the abstract posted in Nature Communications.
“The amount of phase front ‘twisting’ indicates the orbital angular momentum state number, and beams with different orbital angular momentum are orthogonal. Such orbital angular momentum based multiplexing can potentially increase the system capacity and spectral efficiency of millimetre-wave wireless communication links with a single aperture pair by transmitting multiple coaxial data streams.”
According to Willner: “Not only is this a way to transmit multiple spatially collocated radio data streams through a single aperture, it is also one of the fastest data transmission via radio waves that has been demonstrated.”
Two years ago, Willner twisted light to produce data transmission speeds of 2.56 terabits per second, leading companies towards fibre-optic Internet networks. While twisting light achieved faster transmission speeds, radio is more reliable.
“The advantage of radio is that it uses wider, more robust beams,” explains Willner. “Wider beams are better able to cope with obstacles between the transmitter and the receiver, and radio is not as affected by atmospheric turbulence as optics.”
Millimetre waves are in the spectrum between microwaves and infrared waves, at the 30GHz to 300GHz frequency bands.
“Next, the researchers will attempt to extend the twisted radio beams’ transmission range and capabilities,” reports International Business Times. “The technology could have potential applications in data centres, where large bandwidth links between computer clusters are required.”