By: Gigaom
September 04, 2012 at 10:52 AM EDT
Tiny gigahertz antenna could mean 20 Gbps wireless
Better batteries are the holy grail of mobile technology, but in a connected, wireless world antennas deserve some love too. Many recent breakthroughs, such as a sesame-sized antenna that could deliver 20 Gbps Wi-Fi are just as important in driving innovation.

A research institute in Singapore has developed a tiny antenna that’s capable of operating at 135 GHz to deliver wireless speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second. The antenna, which offers 30 times stronger signal transmissions from existing antennas in the 135 GHz frequency band, was developed by the Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore. The IME is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore.

The breakthrough that helped this antenna shrink in size was the filling of the antenna slot with a polymer instead of regular old air. The press release detailing the new antenna says it is ready for integration with active circuits and that the resulting antenna is 70 percent smaller and is almost two-thirds cheaper than a conventional cavity-backed slot antenna inside devices. Combine the new antenna with other millimeter-wave capable equipment and the IME researchers believe it would support speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second. At such high frequencies however, you’re looking at a wireless technology that won’t travel very far or through walls.

However, companies such as Samsung are researching the idea of using millimeter wave networks to boost wireless speeds, especially as spectrum at the lower frequency bands becomes more crowded. And while, it may seem ridiculous to imagine building out real networks in the upper gigahertz bands, our demands for mobile broadband seem infinite at the right capacity and price.

Thus research into better antennas may strike many as esoteric, but it’s essential so we can continue to take advantage of the airwaves around us for data transmissions. For example, this summer Intellectual Ventures spun out a new materials company called Kymeta that’s building a better antenna, while earlier this year Ethertronics said it had developed a new, flexible antenna that could adapt to the conditions around it.


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