German researchers have set a new record in wireless transmission using millimetre-waves to transmit 6 Gigabits of data per second over a distance of 37km.
The technology, which would allow downloading a whole DVD in less than ten seconds, relies on the so-called E-band of the electromagnetic spectrum with frequencies between 71 and 76 GHz, also known as the milimetre-waves.
The team from the University of Stuttgart, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, said the system exceeds ten times existing state-of-the-art technology.
During the experiment, the researchers sent data between Cologne’s 45-story Uni-Centre and the Space Observation Radar TIRA located at Fraunhofer Institute for High-Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques in Wachtberg some 37km away. To achieve the high data rates together with the unprecedented distance, the researchers built innovative transmitters and receivers complete with powerful signal amplifiers. The transistor-based devices together form what the researchers call monolithically integrated millimetre-wave circuits (MMICs).
The circuit amplifies the broadband signal to a transmission power of 1W. The signal is then transmitted via a highly directive parabolic antenna and subsequently received at the other station. Even though it has weakened substantially during the transmission, the sensitive receivers equipped with low-noise amplifiers can reliably detect it.
The primary goal of the research project, called ACCESS, is to enhance satellite data transmission. However, the technology could also work in terrestrial conditions, potentially providing fibre-optic-level data speeds without the need to lay cables and build costly infrastructure.
The millimetre-wave circuits could also be used as backup networks in case of failure of the conventional infrastructure in unexpected accidents or environmental disasters.
Professor Igmar Kallfass from the University of Stuttgart led the project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economy and Energy.