The proliferation of wireless devices may make daily life easier, but their signals are crowding an already limited number of available radio frequencies that enable wireless communication. A University of Georgia researcher is looking to make the most of the spectrum by using photonics, the science of creating, detecting and maneuvering light.
Mable Fok, an assistant professor of engineering who also leads the university's Lightwave and Microwave Photonics Research Laboratory, received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study how photonics can be used to identify and harness unused holes in the radio frequency spectrum.
The spectrum is used to keep everything from wireless personal devices like cell phones and computers to medical system technologies and national security defense mechanisms running smoothly. But with the ever-increasing number of technologies relying on the frequencies, space on the spectrum is tight.
"Fundamentally, this spectrum is all we have," Fok said. "We cannot create more space. But we can make good use of what we have."
Fok will use photonics technologies to rapidly scan the spectrum and find frequencies that are not in use. Once identified, those gaps can be used to meet radio frequency needs of various devices. Fok's scheme not only allows the device to talk and listen at the same time using the same frequency, but it also enables the device to be "smart" enough to run away from interference and jamming.