Italian scientists cook up radio wave capacity boost

With wireless internet, mobile phones and TVs all jostling for radio wave spectrum space, researchers in Italy have taken a new twist on easing congestion.

Spectrum is continually being fought over from a variety of sources, with certain bands of wavelengths getting switched from one use to another.  For example, the UK’s 4G wireless connectivity is dependent on giving the old analogue TV signal the elbow.

Now, a team of Italian and Swedish scientists has cooked up a novel way of allowing different signals to occupy the same frequency, with a nod to the local cuisine.

The team opened the door for an infinite number of channels to be received and broadcast in an experiment across the waters of Venice, aptly taking their cue from an Italian favourite – fusilli pasta.

By twisting two radio waves together it is possible to allow waves to hold more than one channel of information at a time. As a wave can twist about its axis a certain number of times, moving in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, there are many configurations it can take.

According to the scientists, in three dimensions the waves take the form of a “fusillli-pasta-shaped beam”.

To demonstrate how the system works, the researchers transmitted radio waves in the 2.4 GHz band over 442 metres from a lighthouse in the waters around Venice to the mainland.  The demonstration showed that it was possible to pick up both twisted radio wave channels.

According to the researchers, this could mean that increasing amounts of information could easily be sent around the world, and could also help throw some light onto mysteries further out into space.

Apparently, the pasta shaped waves could help understand black holes which constantly rotate as waves pass them. Analysing the waves from a supermassive blackhole found in our  galaxy could allow astronomers a key insight into how the black hole itself twists.