Fujitsu's terahertz receiver can fit inside a smartphone

The tech industry is trying to push higher and higher resolutions into devices, even those as small as smartphones. We now have 2K displays on smartphones and Sony just revealed the world's first smartphone 4K screen. But while the entertainment industry is doing its best to catch up, there could be a new bottleneck soon: network speed. To be more specific, the maximum speeds that our small smartphones can support. Fortunately, Japanese electronics giant Fujitsu might be on the cusp of a breakthrough, with an ultra fast receiver module small enough not to bulk up smartphones.

Fujitsu's module operates on the 300 GHz frequency, also known as the terahertz band. To put that in context, smartphones, which operate in frequencies of 0.8 to 2.5 GHz, achieve tops download speeds of 230 Megabits (not megabytes), per second. Wi-Fi 802.11n, on the other hand, achieves a speed of 600 MB/s. In lab tests, Fujitsu was able to achieve speeds of 20 Gigabits per second, which means users can download a 4K or even 8K video in an instant.

That in itself isn't exactly the breakthrough. The marvel here is how small the module can be. Though large and fast, terahertz waves lose their signal rather quickly. As such, current solution include a separate antenna plus a waveguide component that bridges that antenna and a receiver-amplifier chip. This makes the entire setup too big to fit inside a smartphone, even a phablet.

That is where Fujitsu's achievement lies. Typical printed-circuit substrates used materials like ceramic, quartz, and teflon that degraded terahertz signals greatly. Fujitsu uses heat-resistant synthetic polymer or polymide material instead. There is still some amount of signal loss compared to quartz, but accuracy is exponentially higher. Plus, the entire module only measures 0.75 cubic centimeters, enough to fit inside a smartphone.

Fujitsu plans to start its tests by March next year, with a launch scheduled for 2020. Coincidentally, that is the same year when the Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Japan, where the technology can be used to quickly download guides and brochures, as well as videos of events.