Efficient on-chip antennas for terahertz applications (VENI)Themes: Advanced Antenna Architectures
Silicon technology promises affordable integrated THz systems, but at the cost of limited achievable efficiency. Antenna solutions to overcome this bottleneck efficiency will be investigated.Terahertz (THz) waves are electromagnetic waves with unique properties: among others, THz waves penetrate through clothes and plastics and can be used to detect concealed weapons or explosives; besides, the huge bandwidth of THz waves can enable ultrafast wireless communication, providing data transfer with unprecedented speed. Despite these attractive features, current technologies for generating and detecting THz waves are too costly and bulky for commercial use. The ever-increasing demand for faster wireless networks and the need for security scanners with new capabilities in airports and other public areas urge the development of more accessible THz systems.
Silicon technology can dramatically reduce cost and complexity of THz devices and enable their use for viable applications. However, realizing a workable THz silicon chip is very challenging, because of the limited sensitivity that can be achieved (as detector) or the limited power that can be generated (as source). These limitations are largely attributable to the poor performance of integrated antennas, responsible for the conversion between electrical (on-chip) and radiated (off-chip) signals: current antenna designs are characterized by either very low efficiency or extremely narrow frequency band (which limits sensitivity). Therefore, novel antenna solutions with enhanced efficiency and wider bandwidth need to be investigated.
To improve the performance of silicon-based antennas, I propose two novel concepts: (1) ‘connected arrays’, i.e. multiple antennas connected one to another to overcome the disadvantages of isolated antennas and enlarge the bandwidth; (2) ‘artificial dielectrics’, i.e. materials engineered to have properties that may not be found in nature, capable of enhancing the radiation. My approach will solve the inefficiency problems of silicon-based antennas. This will result in sufficient sensitivity/output power of silicon-based THz devices to enable their use for real-time security scanning and ultra-fast (terabit) wireless links.