Hybrid perovskites: Terahertz communications boost

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  • Published: Nov 15, 2017
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: Chemometrics & Informatics
thumbnail image: Hybrid perovskites: Terahertz communications boost

Wafer thin

A particular perovskite inorganic-organic with the same structure as the original mineral can be layered on a silicon wafer to future terahertz communications component Credit: Dan Hixon/College of Engineering

A hybrid inorganic-organic perovskite that has the same structure as the original mineral can be layered on to a silicon wafer to build a component of future terahertz communications devices according to research from the University of Utah.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications Utah's Valy Vardeny and Ajay Nahata, and their colleagues explain how "Terahertz (THz) technologies hold great promise in the development of next-generation computing and communication systems1. Among the many device capabilities needed to create systems level applications, the ability to control and modulate signals is of fundamental importance." The researchers have now turned to a class of mineral discovered in Russia in the 1830s, perovskites, to help take them to the next level in ultra-high-speed communications and computing. Perovskites have already shown much promise in a range of electro-optical applications including as solar energy converting materials with great potential.

Now, Vardeny, Nahata, and their teams have made that a hybrid perovskite that combines the inorganic calcium titanium oxide of the original mineral with an organic component. The resulting material has the same structure as the original but unlike the purely inorganic can be layered on to a silicon substrate using the relatively straightforward and inexpensive process of spin casting. The hybrid might then form a vital part of a terahertz based communications system of the future. Such a system would use terahertz radiation rather than electrons to shuttle data. Technologists anticipate that it might allow smart phone and internet users to transfer information thousands of times faster than is possible with current technology.

A broader band

Terahertz radiation sits in the band between infrared light and radio waves with frequencies from 100 to 10000 gigahertz (standard mobile phones operates at 2.4 gigahertz). Researchers have been investigating how THz waves might be used as the carrier of signals with much greater bandwidth than current systems.

Nahata and Vardeny's work hints at an answer to an important piece of the communications puzzle: how to modulate the THz signal. Experiments with their deposited multilayer perovskite hybrid show that it can control a terahertz wave passing through it using a simple halogen lamp. Amplitude modulation of THz waves would form the basis of a future high-speed data transmission system.

Terrific terahertz

Previous attempts at THz amplitude modulation have needed expensive, high-power lasers, the perovskite responds at much lower energies, hence the need for a mere halogen lamp. Additionally, a particular hybrid perovskite responds to a particular colour so different materials might be deposited on the same wafer and offer multiple channels simply by using different coloured lights in the modulation process.

"Think of it as the difference between something that is binary versus something that has 10 steps," Nahata explains about what this new structure can do. "Silicon responds only to the power in the optical beam but not to the color. [Our approach] gives you more capabilities to actually do something, say for information processing or whatever the case may be." Nahata concedes that it will most likely be at least another ten years before this kind of terahertz technology for communications and computing becomes a commercial reality, but the new research is another step towards that goal. "This basic capability is an important step towards getting a full-fledged communications system," Nahata explains. "If you want to go from what you're doing today using a modem and standard wireless communications, and then go to a thousand times faster, you're going to have to change the technology dramatically."

Related Links

Nature Commun 2017, 8, 1328: "Colour selective control of terahertz radiation using two-dimensional hybrid organic inorganic lead-trihalide perovskites"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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