Topological photonic insulators
5G technology has become a reality, so engineers and researchers are already turning to the next generation of equipment, which should cater for the next levels of data transmission.
And some equipment is very advanced, Yehao Yang and his colleagues from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Osaka University in Japan are now showing.
They already have their first “post-5G” ready chip, built on the concept of “optical topological isolators”.
Topological insulators are incipient materials, a laboratory curiosity a few years ago, that have properties on their surface that differ from those of their interior. Photonics are materials that can manipulate light, either for processing, storage, or data transmission.
In simple terms, optical topological isolators allow light waves to be conducted on the surface and edges of a material, such as a train following a railroad track, much faster than if it were to travel through the material.
As light travels along these “rails”, it can be redirected around sharp corners and its stream will remain constant even if it encounters imperfections in the material.
Light rails have a slightly different design than train tracks: the small silicon chip contains a series of rows of triangular holes, with small triangles pointing in the opposite direction of the larger triangles, so that waves of light are “topologically protected”.
The chip was capable of transmitting data using terahertz (THz) waves at a speed of 11 gigabits per second (Gbit/s), enabling continuous 4K video streaming, as well as breaking the theoretical limit of 10 Gbit/s for . 5G connections.
According to the team, the application areas of the THz interconnection technology will include data centers, IoT devices, processors with more cores, and long-range communications, including telecommunications such as Wi-Fi.