With a growing number of people connecting to the web every day, internet cables are under the threat of a “bandwidth explosion.” To tackle the problem researchers have developed a new photo-transistor device that will provide a low-cost and low-power alternative to traditional radio-frequency wireless data links, which will lighten the load on internet cables.
According to researchers Free-space optical (FSO) communication is a promising candidate to lighten the load. FSO uses visible or infrared light to wirelessly transmit data through open air as opposed to using cables, which have limited bandwidth.
The team developed an extremely sensitive mid-wavelength infrared photodetector that has potential to replace near-infrared FSO communications links in many applications.
Called a phototransistor, the novel device is a combination of an electronic transistor and optoelectronic photodiode.
"The current state-of-the-art in FSO (free-space optical) communications is based around near-infrared sources and photodetectors," said Northwestern University's Manijeh Razeghi. “But unfortunately, using these wavelengths come with major problems", she added.
At high power, near-infrared wavelengths can damage the human eye, and they are hampered by atmospheric scattering and absorption. However, Razeghi's team bypassed this issue by using mid-wavelength infrared radiation, which can benignly and flawlessly transmit through fog, smoke and clouds.
"This extremely sensitive device could be a game changer for FSO communication technology by providing low-cost, high-speed data links," Razeghi said in a paper appeared in the journal Applied Physics Letters.
(With IANS Inputs)