Lancaster University researchers have developed a new sort of WiFi that delivers data wirelessly using nuclear radiation.
According to a news statement from the university, the engineers transferred data using “fast neutrons” from a radioactive isotope called californium-252. Words and randomly generated numbers were successfully encoded into the neutron field and delivered to a laptop, where they were decoded.
As per a press release by the university, different sorts of information, including a word, the alphabet, and a blindly chosen random number, were serially encoded into the neutron field’s modulation and the output decoded on a laptop, which recovered the encoded information on the screen. A double-blind test was allegedly conducted in which a number generated by a random number generator was encoded without the awareness of those uploading it, then transferred and decoded. All transmission tests that were conducted were completely successful.
The research was published in the journal Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research in an article. While radioactive WiFi may sound like a comedic technology from a “Fallout” game, experts see a wide range of real-world possibilities in this. “We demonstrate the promise of fast neutron radiation as a medium for wireless communications for situations where traditional electromagnetic transmission is either not viable or fundamentally constrained,” stated Professor Malcolm Joyce of Lancaster University in a statement.
Fast neutrons, he continued, have an advantage over ordinary electromagnetic waves, which are attenuated greatly by passage through elements such as metals. Fast neutrons might also be introduced into mixed-signal, electronic systems to create signal mixing between electrons and neutrons, according to the researchers, which could help meet the criterion for information transmission integrity.
In some safety-sensitive scenarios, such as the integrity of reactor containments and metal vaults and bulkheads in marine constructions, it’s necessary to limit the number of communications cabling penetrations into such metal structures. The use of neutrons for information transmission through such structures could eliminate the necessity for such penetrations, and it could also be useful in situations where limited transmissions are needed in difficult circumstances, such as during emergency rescue operations.