Teraphysics Amplifier Enables 150 Gbps Wireless Links

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Wireless transmission at unprecedented high data rates using a millimeter-wave amplifier that weighs only 1.2 pounds and has a footprint smaller than a credit card was described by Teraphysics Corporation, Highland Heights, OH, in a keynote presentation on April 28th at the 16th International Vacuum Electronics Conference (IVEC) in Beijing, China.

Wireless transmission at unprecedented high data rates using a millimeter-wave amplifier that weighs only 1.2 pounds and has a footprint smaller than a credit card was described by Teraphysics Corporation, Highland Heights, OH, in a keynote presentation on April 28th at the 16th International Vacuum Electronics Conference (IVEC) in Beijing, China. IVEC is the premier conference in the field of vacuum electronics.

The paper, “Microfabricated mm-wave TWT Platform for Wireless Backhaul,” described the development and testing of a very broad bandwidth, 94 GHz TWT (traveling wave tube) amplifier. The technology embodied in the 94 GHz TWT is applicable over a wide range of frequencies. Teraphysics engineers have simulated data rates of 23 Gbps (one billion bits per second) at 83.5 GHz and 150 Gbps at 240 GHz over a range of 1 km. These capabilities will be essential in meeting the increased demand for fifth generation (5G) wireless capacity that is expected to grow by a factor of 5000 over the next 15 years.    

The work was funded by contracts from NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Teraphysics paper was presented by Dr. James Dayton, Chief Technology Officer. Co-authors were Dr. Carol Kory, Vice President, Technology Development, and Dr. Gerald Mearini, President and Founder. Dr. Kory served as the Principal Investigator on the project.

The Teraphysics amplifier is 90% smaller than a conventional device. This miniaturization is achieved using novel fabrication techniques developed by Teraphysics. The heart of the device is a helical coil of gold wire, a bit larger in outer diameter than a human hair, which is supported by a thin diamond sheet. Because a helical structure provides the widest known bandwidth, it is commonly implemented using conventional fabrication techniques in amplifiers at lower frequencies. However, these conventional techniques cannot be applied to fabricate the smaller helices required for operation in the upper end of the mm-wave band.

The helix for the 94 GHz TWT is manufactured using a patented Teraphysics microfabrication process that has previously extended the range of the helical amplifier to frequencies as high as 650 GHz. The technology that has been invested in this prototype is applicable to a wide variety of high frequency devices that Teraphysics plans to build so that it becomes in effect a platform for future development.

Although the NASA JPL requirement was for an amplifier that can operate in a narrow band around 94 GHz for use in atmospheric research, the operating range of the inherently broadband Teraphysics helical circuit has been measured to extend from 73.5 to 96.5 GHz. Such a broad bandwidth amplifier will have many potential commercial applications, but the most immediate opportunity will be in telecommunications.

With a slight modification in design, an amplifier with such a large bandwidth could easily cover the two 5 GHz bands of contiguous, commercially important E-Band spectrum available from 71 to 76 and 81 to 86 GHz that have been allocated by the FCC. Low power amplifiers are already being used at these frequency bands to transmit the accumulated data from cell phone users to the main telephone network backbone, a process known as backhaul. The Teraphysics amplifier would provide approximately 30 times more power than the incumbent technology, which would lead to a significantly increased data rate and range.

Most of the lower frequency electromagnetic spectrum is allocated in small bands to a variety of commercial and government constituencies. However, large bands of contiguous spectrum are needed to make the most effective use of the very wide bandwidth available with the Teraphysics amplifier and these are available in E-Band and, particularly, in the relatively unused space above 100 GHz. Applying the same design and fabrication techniques to a device operating at 240 GHz, where there is a large band of contiguous spectrum with relatively low atmospheric losses, Teraphysics believes that an unprecedented data rate of 150 Gbps could be achieved over a one kilometer range.

IVEC is sponsored by the Electron Devices Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which is the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology. This was the first time IVEC has been held in China and it was the largest conference yet both in attendance and in the number of technical papers submitted. Dr. Dayton chaired the first IVEC in 2000 and Dr. Kory chaired the eleventh IVEC in 2010.

About Teraphysics Corporation:
Headquartered in Northeast Ohio, Teraphysics develops powerful, efficient and compact devices that operate in the millimeter and sub-millimeter frequency bands. The company holds multiple patents for intellectual property used in the micro fabrication of devices designed to lead to revolutionary applications and commercialization of vacuum electron device technology. For more information on Teraphysics, visit teraphysics.com or contact Dr. Dayton at dayton(at)teraphysics(dot)com.

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