New World Record: Wireless Data Transmission at 100 Gbit/s

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics

In their record experiment, researchers transmitted 100 gigabits of data per second at a frequency of 237.5 GHz over a distance of 20 m in the laboratory. In previous field experiments they already achieved wireless transmission of 40 Gbit/s at 240 GHz and bridged a distance of one kilometer. For their latest world record, the scientists applied a photonic method to generate the radio signals at the transmitter.

Already in May this year researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology KIT succeeded in transmitting a data rate of 40 Gbit/s over a long distance in the laboratory using a purely electronic system. In addition, data were transmitted successfully over a distance of one kilometer from one high-riser to another in the Karlsruhe City center. This demonstration set a new world record and ties in seamlessly with the capacity of optical fiber transmission.

For their latest world record, the scientists applied a photonic method to generate the radio signals at the transmitter. In their record experiment, 100 gigabits of data per second were transmitted at a frequency of 237.5 GHz over a distance of 20 m in the laboratory. Reception of radio signals is based on electronic circuits. In the experiment, a semiconductor chip was employed that was produced by the Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Solid State Physics IAF within the framework of the »Millilink« project.

»Our project focused on integration of a broadband radio relay link into fiber-optical systems,« Professor Ingmar Kallfass says. He coordinated the »Millilink« project under a shared professorship funded by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT. Since early 2013, he has been conducting research at Stuttgart University. »For rural areas in particular, this technology represents an inexpensive and flexible alternative to optical fiber networks, whose extension can often not be justified from an economic point of view.« Kallfass also sees applications for private homes: »At a data rate of 100 gigabits per second, it would be possible to transmit the contents of a blue-ray disk or of five DVDs between two devices by radio within two seconds only.«

In the current issue of the nature photonics magazine, researchers present a method for wireless data transmission at a world-record rate of 100 gigabits per second (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2013.275).

The »Millilink« project (March 2010 to May 2013) was funded with a total budget of EUR 2 million by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research  under the program »Broadband Access Networks of the Next Generation«. Apart from the research institutions of Fraunhofer IAF and KIT, the industry partners Siemens AG, Kathrein KG, and Radiometer Physics GmbH participated in the project. The project focused on integrating wireless or radio links into broadband optical communication networks for rapid internet access in rural areas in particular. Other possible applications are indoor wireless local area networks (WLAN), wireless personal area networks (WPAN), and intra-machine and board-to-board communication.

In the recent experiment, the originally purely electronic »Millilink« concept was extended by a photonic transmitter. At KIT, work is now continued under the Helmholtz International Research School of Teratronics (HIRST), a graduate school focusing on the combination of photonic and electronic methods for signal processing at highest frequencies.

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