Boosting the wireless speed using tiny optical chips: new chips to break the speed bottleneck of today's wireless networks

Lay summary
More than twenty billion mobile devices will be connected to the internet by 2020 – more than the number of people on earth. And all of them will want to connect to the internet using wireless connection and without any cables. As more and more people want to connect with faster and faster speeds, the current wireless technology cannot keep up with the growing speed demand. As a consequence, we are experiencing a real "wireless bottleneck".

In contrast, the backbone of the internet is not wireless – it consists of a global network of  fiber optic cables that connect the entire planet. These wires have a huge data transport capacity – just one of them would be enough to carry the content of hundreds of blue-ray movies in one second.

Wireless connection speeds are miles away from the ones that would be allowed optical networks – with current technology, it would take us more than 1 hour just to download a single blue-ray movie. We need a radically new wireless technology to bridge this gap.

Through this project, we develop novel chips that integrate together the fastest electronics and photonics in a single device to create much faster converters of optical signals to wireless signals and vice-versa. In particular, the very broad bandwidth of photonics can assist the processing of radio signal with an extremely fast speeds. The goal is to deploy these chips in next generation networks and provide hundred times faster wireless speeds for everybody.