EC awards Glasgow ‘ultra-broadband’ funding

Ultra-high capacity wireless broadband could be on the way, thanks to a three-year £3m European Commission-funded project led by Glasgow University.

The Innovative ultra-BROadband ubiquitous Wireless communications through terahertz transceivers (iBROW) project will involve universities and private-sector companies from the UK, France, Germany and Portugal including Alcatel-Lucent.

Experts believe that by 2020, wireless data rates in the range of tens of gigabits per second will be required to prevent bottlenecks but that this isn’t possible using the frequency spectrum of current wireless systems.

Without new forms of wireless data transfer which operate at frequencies above 60GHz – and up to 1THz – there could be a significant bottleneck in the rates of delivery available to wireless devices.

Dr Edward Wasige, senior lecturer in electronic and nanoscale engineering at Glasgow University said: ‘To date, there have been no suitable technologies for generating and detecting higher frequency signals in the hundreds of gigahertz – those that are low cost, compact and can be set in a mobile handset, have high efficiency and are low energy consuming so could operate from a battery.

‘At present, we have prototypes to demonstrate the concept in the current usable spectrum but more work needs to be done to demonstrate the system at the operation frequency expected for the forthcoming fifth generation of mobile network technology – due by 2020 -which is expect to be at least 100 times faster than fastest 4G LTE standard currently available.’

The researchers hope to use resonant tunnelling diode (RTD) technology – pure solid-state electronic devices operating at room temperature with reported working frequencies exceeding 1THz – to create wireless broadband systems at frequencies where other electronic semiconductor devices cannot be used.