‘Microrings’ could nix wires for communications in homes, offices

Minghao Qi

A miniature device capable of converting ultrafast laser pulses into bursts of radio-frequency signals could be a step toward making wires obsolete for communications in homes and offices of the future. Such an advance could enable all communications, from high-definition television broadcasts to secure computer connections, to be transmitted from a single base station, according to Minghao Qi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Ordinarily, the continuous waves of conventional radio-frequency transmissions encounter interference from stray signals reflecting off of the walls and objects inside a house or office. However, the pulsing nature of the signals produced by the new "chip-based spectral shaper" reduces the interference that normally plagues radio frequency communications.

"We envision a single base station and everything else would be wireless," Qi says. "This base station would be sort of a computer by itself, perhaps a card inserted into one of the expansion slots in a central computer. The central computer would take charge of all the information processing, a single point of contact that interacts with the external world in receiving and sending information."