Imagine being able to access data at speeds nearly 50 times faster than Wi-fi, at around seven gigabytes (GB) per second. The dream may not be far off: City University researchers say it will be on the market in two years.
An 11-member team led by Dr Xue Quan, deputy director of the university's State Key Laboratory of Millimeter Waves, is developing a high-speed wireless data transceiver system that would apply an existing technology called WiGig, which allows multigigabyte-speed transmissions.
The team has received project funding of HK$20 million from the government.
WiGig is a wireless standard that runs over the unlicensed 60 gigahertz (GHz) frequency band - a large bandwidth that would allow larger or more files to be transmitted at higher speeds. Many scientists worldwide are developing WiGig systems.
By contrast, the high-speed wireless data transmission rate is only in megabytes per second, and Wi-fi system bandwidths are just 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
The CityU team's millimeter-wave silicon transceiver integrates three key parts: an array of antennae, a filter for minimising interference and a power amplifier for high-frequency transmission. However, the point-to-point transmission is limited to within only 10 metres.
The transceiver will be embedded in devices such as smartphones, flash drives and laptops. With the higher frequency and lack of interference, massive data can be transmitted or synchronised within seconds wirelessly, such as high-quality media streaming.
Dr Luk Kwai-man, one of the researchers, said one challenge was the extremely small size of the system's integrated circuit.
"Every circuit is only 65 nanometres. And with so many components inside such hardware [about the size of a grain of rice], they need to be assembled and linked properly. Otherwise the radiation will disrupt their functions," Luk said.
The technology can also be used in various industries ranging from medicine to communications. For example, doctors can access patients' medical records at the touch of a button. Even large film and video files will be instantly accessible.
Researcher Dr Wong Hang pointed out that electronic devices such as home phones could be made smaller and thinner, as the transceiver would remove the need for connectors.
He is confident that the technology will be affordable once it becomes popular, like Bluetooth and Wi-fi.