A new wireless transceiver was developed that boosts radio frequencies into 100-gigahertz territory, which is quadruple the speed of the upcoming 5G, or fifth-generation, wireless communications standard. The end-to-end transmitter-receiver is a 4.4-millimeter-square silicon chip capable of processing digital signals significantly faster and more energy-efficiently because of its digital-analog architecture. Having transmitters and receivers that can handle high-frequency data communications is vital for Internet of Things devices, autonomous vehicles, and vastly expanded broadband for streaming of high-definition video content and more.

The end-to-end transmitter-receiver chip boasts a unique architecture combining digital and analog components on a single platform, resulting in ultra-fast data processing and reduced energy consumption. (Steve Zylius/UCI)

Changing frequencies of signals through modulation and demodulation in transceivers has traditionally been done via digital processing but integrated circuit engineers have begun to see the physical limitations of this method. The chip architecture significantly relaxes digital processing requirements by modulating the digital bits in the analog and radio-frequency domains.

In addition to enabling the transmission of signals in the range of 100 gigahertz, the transceiver’s unique layout allows it to consume considerably less energy than current systems at a reduced overall cost, paving the way for use in the consumer electronics market. The technology, combined with phased array systems that use multiple antennas to steer beams, can facilitate a number of applications in wireless data transfer and communication.

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