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Pasta-shaped radio waves 'could help boost wi-fi and TV capacity'

London , Sat, 03 Mar 2012 ANI

London, Mar 3 (ANI): Researchers have found a way of twisting radio waves into a spiral shape, which could help them cram more data into the signal.


Radio waves normally propagate through the air in a pattern similar to waves rippling toward.


Bo Thide of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Uppsala and Fabrizio Tamburini of the University of Padua led a team that found a way to transmit radio waves in a helical, twisted pattern.


Further, they did it in a real-world environment and at frequencies commonly used by Wi-Fi networks.


According to Tamburini, twisting radio waves was pioneered back in the 1970s. Researchers have also produced twisted laser light in the visible range.


What he and Thide have done, though, is show that it's possible to generate and receive such waves outdoors and pick them up outside of a laboratory.


They managed to send the signal 442 meters (about 1,450 feet) across a stretch of water between the Piazza San Marco and San Giorgio Maggiore.


Better yet, transmitting such waves this way doesn't require radical new technology. Part of the apparatus was an ordinary satellite dish antenna.


"We bought it on eBay," Discovery News quoted Tamburini as saying.


A cut was made in one side to get it into a helical shape. To detect the altered shape of the radio signal, though, requires an additional antenna. Twisting the radio waves in this way offers one more dimension in which to divide a signal.


Currently, a radio signal can be split up so that many users can transmit on the same frequency. The signal can be divided into time slots, frequency slots, or each piece of information can be tagged so that the receiver only strings together a certain signal with all the others coming in as noise. Modern wireless computers and mobile phones combine all three methods.


A spiral-shaped radio wave offers yet another way to divide the signal. Using two or more antennas one could look at where along the spiral your message is, just as in code-divided signals a cell phone builds your voice from the pieces tagged with the right bits.


Given that radio spectrum is in limited supply and more people are going wireless, it's a technology that could save phone carriers a lot of money.


Besides boosting bandwidth, though, twisted waves can show how a black hole or other really massive object spins. When black holes rotate, they drag space-time with them, and their mass is so great they bend it.


Radio waves usually move in straight lines, the twisted shape can tell scientists a lot about how the black hole bends space itself.


The study has been published in The New Journal of Physics. (ANI)


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