The demand for more cellar data and higher data throughputs is insatiable. The goal for 6G is to achieve data throughput rates 10x faster than in 5G, eventually achieving up to 1 terabit per second (Tbps) throughput. This speed will enable use cases such as holographic communications and extended reality experiences that aren't possible with today's data speeds.

To reach 1 Tbps speeds, several tens or hundreds gigahertz of bandwidth are needed, which makes higher frequencies like sub-terahertz (sub-THz) appealing. Currently there is extensive research into creating early sub-THz communications systems, but components for these frequencies are still under development and very scarce.

In December, Keysight and researchers from France's Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Lille University and Osaka University announced they had broken the 1 Tbps barrier. In a paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Microwave Conference, professors Guillaume Ducournau and Tadao Nagatsuma detailed this achievement using a system built with a combination of terahertz photodiodes and an electronics-based receiver covering a range of 500 to 724 GHz. In this frequency band, they used channel aggregation with 14 carriers and a range of 16 to 64 quadrature amplitude modulation to achieve a total data throughput of 1.04 Tbps.  

"Terahertz communications have really been pushed forward in recent years, with interesting milestones reached using photonics or electronics," said Professor Ducournau, who specializes in creating terahertz sources, receivers and applying them to communications related applications using photonics and photomixing. "I am excited to see that photonics enabled the first aggregated greater than 1 Tbps sub-THz system, as photonics technologies have accelerated to boost terahertz communication research."

"I am also so happy to reach a single-lane 1 Tbps data rate, that is a long-time dream of terahertz communication researchers," added Professor Nagatsuma.