NYU series tackles next spectrum frontier: terahertz

The folks who conducted pioneering research into millimeter wave (mmWave) technology are now looking at what might be the next big thing: terahertz electromagnetic spectrum.

A series of seminars organized by the New York University Wireless research center and NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department this fall will feature foremost scientists and engineers in the field. The series, conducted at the school’s Brooklyn, N.Y., campus, will be streamed for the public to view and archived for later viewing.

For those not in the know, just what is terahertz spectrum exactly? Generally, it’s above 100 GHz and goes all the way up to 540 GHz or so. But here’s a more detailed answer from Professor Ted Rappaport in response to FierceWirelessTech’s query:

"Technically, the THz band is 300 GHz to 3000 GHz, but due to the molecular make up of air, the spectrum that is implied by 'THz' in the circuits and sensing and communications realm is, practically speaking, in the range of from 100 GHz to 540 GHz or so, and the term 'THz' is now being loosely used to describe frequencies 'above 100 GHz.' Technically, the term 'sub-THz' is more accurate for the 100–300 GHz range, but 'millimeter wave' is technically 30–300 GHz, although practically it has been described as 'above 10 GHz' for practical discussions."

Rappaport, the founding director of NYU Wireless, returned to the role of director in August. Associate Director Professor Sundeep Rangan served as director for the past three years, spearheading the center through a busy time and taking millimeter wave, which many carriers are using for 5G, to the next level. Rangan will continue in an assistant role, along with Professor Thomas Marzetta, Professor Dennis Shasha from NYU’s Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and Assistant Professor J.R. Rizzo from NYU Langone Health.

RELATED: DARPA project to examine terahertz for wireless communications

According to Rappaport, recent breakthroughs in THz research, quantum computing and nanotechnology have opened exciting new vistas for the future of electrical and computer engineering, and NYU has made major investments in these areas already.

“While we have pioneered the use and understanding of mmWave frequencies for 5G, it is clear that new knowledge will be needed to bridge the gap between the fundamentals of these new areas with the design and fabrication of devices,” he said in a press release. “In keeping with the NYU Wireless tradition, we also seek to amplify the global conversation in these exciting areas by organizing this series and making it free and open to all.”

Indeed, the institution has a history of making content from the annual Brooklyn 5G Summit readily available for the public to view online, both livestreaming and through archives thanks to IEEE.tv.

First up in the new terahertz series is Circuits: Terahertz (THZ) and Beyond, which promises to explore the “vast unknown” that lies between the optical spectrum and the millimeter wave frequencies that will soon carry massive amounts of data in 5G. Physicists, mathematicians and engineers have been working for decades trying to solve fundamental challenges of the THz spectrum and pushing the boundaries of quantum nanoelectronics in the hope of unlocking even more gains for communications, computing, sensing and materials, according to NYU Wireless.

The inaugural seminar, at 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 5, will feature Aydin Babakhani speaking on the topic: “Silicon-based Integrated Sensors with On-chip Antennas: From THz Pulse Sources to Miniaturized Spectrometers.” Babakhani, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and director of the Integrated Sensors Laboratory at UCLA, designed a wireless, battery-free pacemaker that receives energy through radio frequency radiation and eliminates the need for risky surgeries to replace batteries.