High-speed chips able to communicate data up to 100 times faster than present-day Wi-Fi have been developed by the Singapore government’s A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME).
A*STAR researchers say “the new millimetre-wave communication system will allow three Blu-ray movies (each of 25GB capacity) to be wirelessly downloaded in a minute”.
The researchers used high radio frequencies to develop the high speed wireless communication chips, which A*Star said will “will open up a myriad of consumer applications for home entertainment, mobile electronics and can potentially eradicate messy cables for communicating information between multiple devices”.
“The ability to fabricate millimetre-wave technology with traditional silicon-based materials is a significant milestone to extend millimetre-wave frequencies to commercial applications since mature chip making processes can now be utilised,” the announcement stated.
"After two years of intensive research and development, we have developed critical building blocks for receivers and transmitters based on our established millimetre-wave and terahertz platform that will enable millimetre-wave chips to be produced cost-effectively," said IME executive director, Professor Dim-Lee Kwong.
"Our team will be carrying out 3D circuit structure design study for increasing the strength of signals for better communication performance."
The IME statement said the speed at which wireless data can currently be transferred is largely limited by the carrier radio waves. Today’s fastest wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi operate in the gigahertz frequency range.
“Until recently, millimetre-wave frequencies were limited to niche areas for military and space applications as conventional approaches use costly materials based on Group III-V elements such as gallium arsenide,” according to the statement.
“The ability to fabricate millimetre-wave technology with traditional silicon-based materials is a significant milestone to extend millimetre-wave frequencies to commercial applications since mature chip making processes can now be utilised.”
Developed to bridge R&D between academia and industry, the IME is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
IME’s key research areas are in integrated circuits design, advanced packaging, bioelectronics and medical devices, MEMS, nanoelectronics, and photonics.
Elaborating on their research milestone, Dr Xiong Yong Zhong, principal investigator of IME’s Millimetre-wave and Terahertz programme, said: “We have adopted a multi-pronged approach to build the high-speed millimetre-wave transmitter and receiver chip set that comprises critical technologies in the form of a low noise amplifier – with enhanced gain-boosting 3D configuration to improve gain and noise performance; a high-speed modulator; a high-speed variable gain amplifier – includes circuits that allow high speed communication over wide dynamic range of 36 dB and a 3D micromachining microstrip to waveguide transition structure – integral for minimising signal loss.
“In order to enable such high data rate of 10 Gbps on 135 GHz carrier signal, the modulator plays an important role to convert message signals to a suitable form before 135 GHz wireless transmission.
“To attain high fidelity of the data signals transmitted, shielding ground structures and a novel combination of bias and matching networks were applied to reduce the noise interferences to less than 10 dB. Without these structures, noise levels can be as high as 15 dB,” Dr Xiong said.