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Singapore ultra-fast communication chip milestone

Ross O. Storey | Nov. 25, 2010
Researchers claim breakthrough for cable-less communication between multiple devices

SINGAPORE, 25 NOVEMBER 2010 - High-speed chips able to communicate data up to 100 times faster than present-day wi-fi have been developed by the Singapore government's A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME).

 In an announcement, A*STAR researchers say "the new millimetre-wave communication system will allow three Blu-ray movies (each of 25 GB capacity) to be wirelessly downloaded in a minute".

 The researchers believe "IME's research - which is exploiting high radio frequency to develop future high speed wireless communication products - "will open up a myriad of consumer applications for home entertainment, mobile electronics and can potentially eradicate messy cables for communicating information between multiple devices".

 "The ability to fabricate millimetre-wave technology with traditional silicon-based materials is a significant milestone to extend millimetre-wave frequencies to commercial applications since mature chip making processes can now be utilised," the announcement stated.

 Two years of development

 IME executive director, Professor Dim-Lee Kwong said: "After two years of intensive research and development, we have developed critical building blocks for receivers and transmitters based on our established millimetre-wave and terahertz platform that will enable millimetre-wave chips to be produced cost-effectively.

 "Our team will be carrying out 3D circuit structure design study for increasing the strength of signals for better communication performance."

 The IME statement said the speed at which wireless data can currently be transferred is largely limited by the carrier radio waves. Today's fastest wireless technologies such as wi-fi operate in the gigahertz frequency range.

 "Until recently, millimetre-wave frequencies were limited to niche areas for military and space applications as conventional approaches use costly materials based on Group III-V elements such as gallium arsenide," according to the statement.

 "The ability to fabricate millimetre-wave technology with traditional silicon-based materials is a significant milestone to extend millimetre-wave frequencies to commercial applications since mature chip making processes can now be utilised."

 Bridge between academia and industry

 Developed to bridge R&D between academia and industry, the IME is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

 IME's key research areas are in integrated circuits design, advanced packaging, bioelectronics and medical devices, MEMS, nanoelectronics, and photonics.

 Elaborating on their research milestone, Dr Xiong Yong Zhong, principal investigator of IME's Millimetre-wave and Terahertz programme, said: "We have adopted a multi-pronged approach to build the high-speed millimetre-wave transmitter and receiver chip set that comprises critical technologies in the form of a low noise amplifier - with enhanced gain-boosting 3D configuration to improve gain and noise performance; a high-speed modulator; a high-speed variable gain amplifier - includes circuits that allow high speed communication over wide dynamic range of 36 dB and a 3D micromachining microstrip to waveguide transition structure - integral for minimising signal loss.

 

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