Beyond 5G – Fraunhofer looks ahead to use of THz frequencies

November 06, 2017 //By Graham Prophet
Today it is already becoming apparent that the data rates offered by the coming 5G mobile communications standard will not sate private users’ and industry’s hunger for data for very long. Reseachers at Fraunhofer are already working on 6G together with partners from industry and research as part of the EU-sponsored TERRANOVA project.

Up to the end of 2019, the TERRANOVA team will be working on embedding terahertz wireless solutions into fast fibre optic networks, developing new frequency bands and thereby laying the foundation for a resilient communications infrastructure that is equipped to cope with the demands of the future.

 

In the TERRANOVA project, Fraunhofer IAF is focusing on the integration of wireless modules at the chip level. The image above shows a functional prototype of a 300 GHz multichannel wireless system for further integration as a system-on-chip.

 

When today’s 4G standard was introduced back in 2010, it was the first time that users could achieve the same order of data transfer rates on a mobile device that they could on a home network. This is what facilitated many of the applications that mobile users today take for granted, including video calling, on-demand video streaming and connected machines and vehicles. Even so, the hunger for data just keeps on growing, with the result that even the comparatively fast LTE data rates of up to a gigabit a second are increasingly proving the limiting factor in new applications. There is a clamour for faster connections, not just from mobile users but also from industry, where the growing number of connected devices and machines generate ever larger streams of data, which must be relayed as fast and smoothly as possible. The next telecommunications standard, 5G, is already on its way; this new mobile communications standard promises to deliver a huge boost in performance for wireless communications – up to ten gigabits a second. Already, however, developers are realizing that the current frequency bands will not be enough to serve the growing demand for stable wireless communication. For this reason, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF have teamed up with researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI and further partners from industry and research to