Scientists twist to get more radio bandwidth

twistScientists from three international universities have twisted again, like they did last summer, and  managed to transfer data at the speed of 32 gigabits per second.

This is 30 times faster than 4G LTE wireless technology.

The team, led by Alan Willner, of the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, successfully demonstrated data transmission rates of 32 gigabits per second across 2.5m of free space in his basement.

He pointed out that this is one of the fastest data transmission via radio waves that has been demonstrated.

Dubbed “High-capacity millimetre-wave communications with orbital angular momentum multiplexing” is published in the latest issue of journal Nature Communications.

This speed can only be eclipsed by twisting light, Willner did this two years ago, and achieved data transmission speeds of 2.56 terabits per second. But radio is more reliable because it uses wider, more robust beams. 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 occupy the 30GHz to 300GHz frequency bands.. They are found in the spectrum between microwaves, which take up the 1GHz to 30GHz bands, and infrared waves, which are sometimes known as extremely high frequency (EHF).

Mobile operators are becoming interested in millimetre waves as they seek to create faster 4G LTE networks and beat congestion from too many users accessing the internet on their phones at one time.

The next plan is to extend the twisted radio beams’ transmission range and capabilities. The technology could have potential applications in data centres, where large bandwidth links between computer clusters are required.