Airborne Wireless Network Using Terahertz Band to Provide Low Cost, High-Speed Connectivity

Broadband aerial wireless networks expert, Airborne Wireless Network, has partnered with UCLA Samueli School of Engineering to test terahertz-band communication technology at medium altitudes.

At present, worldwide connectivity is achieved through undersea cables, ground-based fiber and satellites. An airborne digital network is a potential solution to provide low cost, high-speed connectivity to commercial and private aircraft in flight, as well as remote areas such as island nations and territories, ships at sea, and oil platforms.

Airborne Wireless Network (ABWN) will lend its expertise by planning, implementing and executing experimental aviation programs by integrating UCLA's breakthrough terahertz communication technology in a series of flight tests. The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering's Integrated Sensors Laboratory, directed by Aydin Babakhani, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, designs, fabricates, and tests silicon-based terahertz sensors and systems. The laboratory has reported the world's first picosecond pulse generation and detection technology using silicon microchips and successfully demonstrated a long distance link.

The UCLA-developed technology avoids the alignment and dispersion issues that limit the performance of free-space optical links. In addition to communication, the broadband terahertz pulse successfully augments the capabilities of precision radars and navigation systems, and also enables the identification and classification of small drones and other airborne objects through hyper-spectral sensing and micro-Doppler effects.

The technology is expected to be tested at mid-level altitudes (10,000 to 15,000 feet) where it is expected to have inherent advantages over satellites; it will also be used to test and establish high bandwidth self-synchronizing airborne data links.