Rohm builds chip that will send data at 30Gbps, through clothing, paper

The Japanese chipmaker said it has made an experimental component that transmits and receives terahertz-range frequencies

Japanese component maker Rohm said it has developed an experimental chip that can send and receive signals at terahertz-range frequencies, which can carry data at speeds of up to 30Gbps and penetrate clothing and paper.

The company aims to bring the device to market in the next three or four years at an initial price of less than ¥1,000 (US$13), a spokeswoman said Tuesday. That would allow for its use in home electronics and other consumer devices.

Measuring 1.5 mm by 3mm, it operates in the 300 GHz range, part of a band between radio and light waves, and was developed together with researchers at Osaka University. Rohm said the chip was the first in the world to achieve this at such a small size.

Rohm said the chip currently handles data at 1.5Gbps, but that can be increased to about 30Gbps in the future. The firm said it has used the chips to send uncompressed high-definition television (HDTV) images, and is working to develop chips for commercial applications aimed at the next wave of TVs and projectors, which will be able to display images at several times current resolutions.

The main obstacles to mass production at the current stage are durability and stable, consistent performance, the spokeswoman said.

Signals at terahertz frequencies can pass through solid objects including paper, plastic, walls and even the outer layers of skin, making them also suitable for security and medical applications. The signals cannot pass through water or metal, however, and like light signals must be aimed in a specific direction. They also have limited range.

Most equipment used to work with the technology has until now been bulky and expensive, Rohm said, blocking use outside of labs and industrial settings.

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