Image: The high frequency chip developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Credit: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology/Sandra Iselin/Fraunhofer IAF
Think your network is fast? Getting a gigabyte-sized movie over your local wireless network to your hard drive in a few seconds is old hat. Now there’s a network that can push a 2-hour, high-definition movie to a computer a mile away in less time than it takes to read a single word.
What makes this possible is a combination of better hardware and the use of higher radio frequencies, in this case, 240 gigahertz.That hardware is a set of chips developed at Karlsruhe that can process signals at higher frequencies. Higher frequencies mean smaller components, since a shorter wavelength can be picked up by a smaller antenna (which is why FM and AM radios need relatively large antennas, while Wi-Fi receivers can use small ones). These chips were only a few millimeters on a side.
The high frequencies are necessary for moving lots of data — the number of bits that can travel over the airwaves is inversely proportional to the wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the more data that can go in a given time.