As if pasta-shaped radio waves weren’t enough, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have successfully demonstrated wireless transmitters and receivers that operate in the terahertz range. Current equipment operates in the gigahertz range–you’ve probably heard of 2.4 Ghz equipment. It’s pretty common in wireless routers and cordless phones.
Gigahertz and terahertz are forms of hertz, with is a measure of how close the peaks and valleys in a signal are together. the closer they are together, the faster a signal oscilates as it is received. Terahertz means that the signal oscilates through 1 trillion cycles every second, each cycle able to carry data.
Lower frequency waves tend to travel further, but they can’t carry as much data. Which is why all our wireless equipment has been trending upwards. Bumping the frequency up from gigahertz to terahertz means that the signal can carry far more data. Like, 1,000 times as much data.
Specifically, the technology relies on modulating the frequency of light in the terahertz band. As says Hrvoje Petek, a professor of physics and chemistry in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences:
“The ability to modulate light with such a bandwidth could increase the amount of information carried by more than 1,000 times when compared to the volume carried with today’s technologies. Needless to say, this has been a long-awaited discovery in the field.”
Of course, the research is still completely experimental at this point. There is no hardware, and the team really hasn’t even experimented sending data on this band. But this is a breakthrough that will have a long-standing impact. It might take a decade before we see the fruit of this research’s labor for ourselves, but it will change how we see the internet when finally does arrive.