How graphene antennas could pave the way for terabit wireless data speeds

Graphene Antenna Research

While gigabit Wi-Fi seems to be all the rage these days, some researchers at Georgia Tech are working on new technology that makes even the fastest wireless networks look like dial-up in comparison. Technology Review reports that Georgia Tech’s broadband wireless networking laboratory has been experimenting with making antennas out of graphene,  a two-dimensional “super-material” that measures just one atom thick and has been described by Nokia (NOK) as the “strongest material ever tested, having a breaking strength 300 times greater than steel.” But while a lot of attention has been paid to graphene’s potential for manufacturing incredibly thin and light gadget casings, the researchers at Georgia Tech are using it to create an antenna capable of transmitting data at a rate of a terabit per second.

“It’s a gigantic volume of bandwidth,” Ian Akyildiz, the director of Georgia Tech’s wireless lab, tells Technology Review. “Nowadays, if you try to copy everything from one computer to another wirelessly, it takes hours. If you have this, you can do everything in one second — boom.”

Technology Review says that the researchers have proposed shaping graphene “into narrow strips of between 10 and 100 nanometers wide and one micrometer long,” which would allow it “to transmit and receive at the terahertz frequency, which roughly corresponds to those size scales.” Of course, even if such antennas were to come out tomorrow, it’s unlikely that most users would start experiencing terabit download speeds since there wouldn’t be a device ecosystem capable of properly taking advantage of the technology.

All the same, graphene’s potential to change wireless technology shows why Nokia and other mobile companies have been investing significant resources researching ways to use it in future devices. To say the least, graphene breakthroughs are going to be something to watch in the coming years.

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