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ComSoc Technology News (CTN) is a free, online monthly publication that publishes interesting, timely, and newsworthy articles that span a wide range of topics related to the communications technology industry. Our mission is to be an informational resource that brings diverse perspective and thought leadership, while providing a platform for lively discussion amongst our readers.

CTN is run by a team of volunteer editorial board members who are technical experts in diverse fields. All articles are reviewed and edited by a technical editor. The editor-in-chief performs the final review prior to publication. 

October 2021 Issue

Can RF Photonics Save the Wireless Day? Unbounded Beam-Bandwidth Product to the Rescue.

As the natural growth season in the northern hemisphere draws to a close, the growth of mobile data shows no sign of abating, and the mobile network industry increasingly looks to higher frequency bands (millimeter wave and Terahertz) in search for more bandwidth. The extremely high beam-bandwidth product, native to such spectra, promises throughput that is orders of magnitude higher than those of today's 5G network, yet poses daunting hardware challenges for implementation of a radio frontend that scales with growing spectral availability. Enter Radio Frequency (RF) photonics. It turns out that a phased array supporting several octaves of RF carrier frequencies and thousands of antenna elements can be efficiently built on electro-optical modulators (EOMs), photodetectors (PDs), and Fourier optical processors running at the speed of light. In this article, our colleague Dennis Prather shares with us the remarkable progress that RF-photonic device technologies have made towards becoming a viable alternative to all-RF transceiver chains and explains how thousands of such links can be brought into phase coherence in a small ensemble to form as many beams as the electrical aperture of the array allows. Indeed, the optical processor that does the spatial beamforming, being the 'brain' of the system, is RF agnostic, and can be part of a photonic integrated circuit (PIC), raising the intriguing prospect of a future-proof massive MIMO front end that keeps on giving for many generations of mobile networks to come. It is oddly fitting that it may take a RF-photonic approach to bridge the Terahertz Gap between microwave and light. As always your comments and feedback are most welcome.

Miguel Dajer, CTN Editor-in-Chief

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Statements and opinions given in a work published by the IEEE or the IEEE Communications Society are the expressions of the author(s). Responsibility for the content of published articles rests upon the authors(s), not IEEE nor the IEEE Communications Society.