An off-the-wall new study by Brown University researchers shows that terahertz frequency data links can bounce around a room without dropping too much data. The results are good news for the feasibility of future terahertz wireless data networks, which have the potential to carry many times more data than current networks.
Today's cellular networks and Wi-Fi systems rely on microwave radiation to carry data, but the demand for more and more bandwidth is quickly becoming more than microwaves can handle. That has researchers thinking about transmitting data on higher-frequency terahertz waves, which have as much as 100 times the data-carrying capacity of microwaves. But terahertz communication technology is in its infancy. There's much basic research to be done and plenty of challenges to overcome.
For example, it's been assumed that terahertz links would require a direct line of sight between transmitter and receiver. Unlike microwaves, terahertz waves are entirely blocked by most solid objects. And the assumption has been that it's not possible to bounce a terahertz beam around—say, off a wall or two—to find a clear path around an object.