HIGH FREQUENCY PLASMA ANTENNAS could hold the key for economically viable superfast wireless networking.
We've had boffins using humans to create body-to-body wireless networks. Now they want to use plasma antennas to get ridiculously fast wireless speeds. But we don't mean you can pop into Dixon's at the weekend and slap another antenna into your plasma TV - it's a little bit more complicated than that.
This technology is more than theoretically possible, it has already been achieved. However, the current hardware uses a wider range of frequencies so it's impractically massive to use for mobile environments. They are also way too expensive and hard to manufacture.
Luckily, some UK researchers are working on a solid-state plasma antenna called Plasma Silicon Antenna, or PSIAN. This uses beam forming technology and the same manufacturing process currently used for silicon chips. That makes it small enough to bung into smartphones.
"Higher frequencies mean shorter wavelengths and hence smaller antennas," Plasma Antennas business development director Ian Russell told New Scientist magazine. "The antenna actually becomes cheaper at the smaller scales because you need less silicon."
There is a gas plasma alternative but it's not solid-state so it is bigger and contains moving parts, making it more of a pain to manufacturer. That leaves the door open for PSIAN to be used for next generation Wi-Gig that can reach up to 7Gbps bandwidth over frequencies up to 60GHz.
The good news is that Plasma Antennas reckon it will be on the shelf in the next couple of years. The bad news is that the US military wants to use it to create a more advanced version of its existing pain beam. µ
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