CSIRO speeds wireless chip to 80 gigabits per second

Scientists design the world's fastest and most efficient mm-wave chips

The CSIRO is laying claim to developing the world's best breed of 200GHz millimetre-wave (mm-wave) amplifier and mixer chips that double wireless data transfer rates, while being more cost and power efficient than current wireless chips.

A team of four CSIRO engineers, led by research director of the CSIRO ICT Centre's Wireless Technologies Laboratory, Dr Jay Guo, have been working on the new mm-wave chip for just over two years.

Used in wireless communications and imaging, the new chips allow both technologies to greatly increase bandwidth, range and power efficiency thanks to the development of a new system architecture.

Where current mm-wave chips base their architecture on frequencies from the first harmonic of a wave, the new chips tune into its fourth harmonic. This allows for a four-fold increase in frequency without the need for oscillators that may otherwise complicate the core architecture.

Guo said this simplified architecture makes it much cheaper to manufacture the chips and boosts bandwidth from 20GHz up to 40GHz.

"By increasing the bandwidth to 40GHz, it's now very easy to boost data transfer rates up to 80Gbps," he said.

For wireless communications, the chips can be used in both indoor and outdoor wireless networking. Although signal strength in mm-wave chips can be affected by fog, rain and cloudy conditions, Guo said the improved data transfer rates and enhanced efficiency means signals could travel further and with superior direction than current mm-wave chip technologies.

He said the chips could also be used in medical imaging or in security imaging to detect concealed objects.

"Because the chips operate in the 180-220 GHz frequency range, the imager can have higher resolution, longer stand-off distance, and detect anything that blocks the body's natural heat radiation," he said. "This means that people can be scanned from a distance, for instance, as they pass through airport security screening stations."

CSIRO is currently in discussions with a number of international wireless manufacturers to bring the technology to market.

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Mitchell Bingemann

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