Lightning-fast communications

University of Utah

November, 2017
Lightning-fast communications

Researchers from the University of Utah have discovered that a special kind of perovskite can be layered on a silicon wafer to create a vital component for the communications systems of the future. Perovskite, discovered in Russia in the 1830s, is a combination of an organic and inorganic compound material that has the same structure as the original material. This novel system would use the terahertz spectrum, using light instead of electricity to shuttle data between devices over a thousand times faster than currently available today.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Ajay Nahata and physics and astronomy Distinguished Professor Valy Vardeny uncovered more information in which by depositing a form of multilayer perovskite on silicon wafer they can modulate terahertz waves passing through by utilizing a simple halogen lamp. Modulating the amplitude terahertz radiation shows how data in this communications system would be transmitted.

“If you want to go from what you’re doing today using a modem and standard wireless communications, and then go to a thousand times faster, you’re going to have to change the technology dramatically,” explains Nahata.

Previous attempts to do this have usually required the use of an expensive, high-power laser. However this version allows for modulation using not only the lamp power, but also the specific color of the light. Therefore, they are able to put different perovskites on the same silicon substrate, where each region could be controlled by different colors from the lamp.

“Think of it as the difference between something that is binary versus something that has 10 steps,” Nahata explains about what this new structure can do. “Silicon responds only to the power in the optical beam but not to the color. It gives you more capabilities to actually do something, say for information processing or whatever the case may be.”

Although Nahata says it is probably at least another decade before terahertz technology for communications and computing is used, this research is a vital and significant step to getting there.

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