The terahertz (THz) band shows promise in terms of providing improved communications capabilities, including the ability for power-enhanced beam-forming and spatial multiplexing and reconfigurable array architectures that meet the capacity demands for 5G applications. All of these attributes of line of sight (LoS) systems in the THz spectral regime allow for wireless bit rates to be augmented without typical issues such as latency or noise complicating the picture. The integration of capabilities such as ultrafast wireless local-area-networks (LAN), intra-chip connectivity, kiosk downloads, and server farm connectivity can all be enabled by using THz architectures in wireless designs.

Rensselaer researcher Michael Shur created and tested a technology that enhances the integration and use of THz components for applications ranging from interferometry to wireless communications. The design could improve performance at the component and system level and overcome multiple issues conventional technologies face when operating at these high-frequency levels. The design is based on Plasmonic transistor technology known as TeraFET. It offers capabilities that can be integrated into various applications ranging from complex back-end systems to smartphones and wearables. By creating a design that uses silicon (Si), the invention could enable enhanced capabilities and use of current semiconductor fabrication facilities. The approach also addresses multiple issues that are present in existing designs. It demonstrates that using this new approach could improve key attributes such as direction, frequency, and signal strength of the communication system where it is implemented. 

Key benefits of the invention include: adapted to provide specific benefits and performance capabilities on an individual application basis, resolves issues, such as parasitics, that are present and dominate in ultra-short channel FET, tunable design that establishes frequency detection ranges as a function of gate length and the gate-source voltage, design can be extended to materials (other than Si) to achieve similar or improved benefits in performance and leverages standard Si large scale integration (VLSI) manufacturing technology for cost-effectiveness and quick commercialization.

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Natasha Sanford