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University of Texas at Austin - Lighter, Cheaper radio wave device could transform telecommunications

DCN Corp® - Radio wave circulator designed by researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering. Credit - University of Texas, Austin (UoTA), USAResearchers at the University of Texas, Austin (UoTA), Cockrell School of Engineering, have achieved a milestone in wireless and cellular telecommunications whereby they have created a smaller, efficient radio wave circulator which can be used in smartphones and other wireless devices. Please Note the researchers published their findings in Nature Physics

It is speculated that the new circulator has potential to double the useful bandwidth in wireless communications by enabling full-duplex functionality, thus, meaning that devices can transmit and receive signals on the same frequency band simultaneously. It seems the key innovation is the creation of a magnetic free radio wave circulator.

Since the commercialisation of wireless technology over 60 years ago, magnetic based circulators have been able to provide two-way communications on the same frequency channel. However, unfortunately, such a concept has not been widely adopted because of the large size, weight and cost associated with employing magnets / magnetic materials.

In being freed from a reliance on to magnetic effects, the new circulator has a smaller footprint whilst also using inexpensive and common materials. Such cost / size efficiencies mean that the integration of circulators within smartphones and other microelectronic systems can result in faster downloads, fewer dropped calls and increased levels of clearer communications.

The research team led by Associate Professor Andrea Alu had developed a circulator prototype, which was 2 centimetres in size and more than 75 times smaller than the wavelength of operation. The researchers claim that the circulator can be further scaled down to a few microns. The design is based on materials typically used in integrated circuits, such as Gold (Au), Copper (Cu) and Silicon (Si), thus, making it easier to integrate on to existing circuit boards of modern communication devices.

As stated by Alu - "We are changing the paradigm with which isolation and two-way transmission on the same frequency channel can be achieved. We have built a circulator that does not need magnets or magnetic materials."

The device functions by mimicking the way magnetic materials break the symmetry in wave transmission between two points in space, which is a critical factor that enables magnetic circulators to selectively route radio waves. On the new circulator, the researchers achieved the same effect and they replaced the magnetic bias with a travelling wave spinning around the device. An additional feature is that the new circulator can be turned in real-time over a broad range of frequencies which is an advantage versus conventional circulators.

As commented by Nicholas Estep, lead researcher and a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering - "With this technology, we can incorporate tunable nonreciprocal components in mobile platforms," - and - "In doing so, we may pave the way to simultaneous two-way communication in the same frequency band, which can free up chunks of bandwidth for more effective use."

The research, above, is a distinct advantage for telecomunication companies whom have to pay for licenses to use different frequencies as secondment by different worldwide governments, thus, an efficient use of the limited available bandwidth translates as substantive cost savings.

Furthermore, as speculated by Estep, because the design of the circulator is scalable and capable of circuit integration then it can potentially be placed in wireless devices - "We envision micron-sized circulators embedded in cellphone technology. When you consider cellphone traffic during high demand events such as a football matches or a concert, there are enormous implications opened by our technology, including fewer dropped calls and clearer communications."

In a final claim the circulator can also benefit other industries that need to use magnetic based circulators. For example, circulators used in phased arrays and radar systems for aircraft, ships and satellites can be very heavy and large, so minimising the size of the systems can provide significant savings. As Alu concludes - "We are also bringing this paradigm to other areas of science and technology" - and - "Our research team is working on using this concept to protect lasers and to create integrated nano-photonic circuits that route light signals instead of radio waves in preferred directions." Original article available here

As with other nano-telecommunication studies, as stated previously, DCN Corp strongly believes it can supersede, and so going forward if you and/or your colleagues are interested in making an alternative process reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.