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Marconi Inspires Rice ­niversity Design For 1-Terabit Wireless

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Aydin Babakhani and Edward Knightly of Rice University

Rice University engineering researchers Aydin Babakhani (left) and Edward Knightly are using pulse-based radio technology to create a wireless system capable of delivering 1 terabit of data per second.

Credit: Jeff Fitlow / Rice University

Rice University researchers are developing the first laser-free, pulse-based radio system to support a transmission rate of 1 terabit per second.

To meet the growing demands of mobile data traffic, the U.S. National Science Foundation has invested more than $60 million in radio spectrum research, including a $1.3-million grant to Rice to develop terabit pulse-based technology. Instead of power going to a large antenna through an air gap like Guglielmo Marconi's radio, the new system goes to an on-chip antenna via a high-speed bipolar transistor. Once magnetic energy on the chip is released, it radiates as a picosecond impulse, and many pulses can be sent at a high pulse-rate frequency, achieving the targeted data speeds.

Rice professor Aydin Babakhani has set the world record for transmitting the shortest radio pulse of 1.9 picoseconds. Babakhani and Edward Knightly, chair of Rice's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, are working to create a transmitter that can send even shorter pulses at high frequencies. The transmitter will contain 10,000 antennas, boosting the signal strength for a reach of up to a quarter mile. "Breaking the terabit-per-second barrier with radio will enable an entirely new set of wireless applications and communication paradigms," Knightly says.

From Rice University 
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