Amplifier ticks at 1,000,000,000,000 Hz! World Record

DARPA’s Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) is the first solid-state amplifier demonstrating gain above 1 THz (1012 GHz). Credit: DARPA

DARPA has announced the first amplifier achieving a speed of 1THz, a world record. Indeed, Officials from Guiness World Records have recognised the DARPA amplifier as the fastest and the first to reach the 1THz barrier.

Notice that this "speed" is 20 times faster than the one normally used in today's most advanced electronics to modulate signals for optical network transmission.

This amplifier has been developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation and it has shown a nine decibel of gain, something never reached before.

The capability of amplifying signals at these frequencies open up the gate to application in the area of anticollision systems (read self driving cars), detection of dangerous substances, like explosives, and much faster communication networks.

Indeed, today electrical signals are converted into optical signals using modulators at 40 GHz, even though the optical fiber can modulate signals at “optical” speed, that is in the THz range. What we do today is to use several electrical to optical converters and send signals with different wavelengths over the fiber (what is called WDM – Wavelength Division Multiplexing, or DWDM – Dense WDM, when we have many signals modulated at the same time) since we have this limitation on the electrical part. BY being able to modulate electrical signals in the THz range we can multiply the, already gigantic, capacity of our communication links.


It is likely that this result will first find application in the military domain (and Grumman is a major provider of the US military) but as it happened to several other technologies it will make the jump into civil applications for us all to benefit!

Author - Roberto Saracco

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