Radio is the new star along with the photonic radar

I dont think video ever really killed the radio star, perhaps outshone it to an extent?

Never the less, the new inventions in radio are certain to shine bright: software radio!

As most of you would already know, to send and recieve information on radio waves, the modulation and demodulation required is done by dedicated electronic cicruits that work for particular frequency bands and setups. So its not possible to switch bands and a radio/system set up to work in a particular country/band/ etc. cant be used to transmit/receive other signals (say FM instead of AM or wifi or tv) or in different countries.

With software radio, a piece of software performs the modulation/demodulation on the software that represents the signal. So literally any signal can be used in this setup. The Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) works as the hardware which converts the actual radio waves/signal into software that can be used with the radio software program.

The potential benefits of software radio can be huge: the same system could be a radio or a TV, wifi transciever even! One place where it may well prove to be a big hit is the photonic radar.Using software radio it would be possible to replace several components (each of which performs a dedicated task such as sending out signals or detecting them etc.) with one lighter, energy efficient and more versatile equipment for the photonic radar.

The photonic radar has recently made big news due to its connection with the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. However, the invention itself is ingenious: by heterodyning (or producing beats) between two modes of a mode locked laser so the phase of the resulting signal is very stable, it is possible to use the signal for radar. One can go to higher frequency ranges and broader bandwidth compared to traditional electronic circuits that produce signals that are noisy at hgih frequencies and have limited bandwidth.

This combination of photonics with digital radio offers a great new solution that overcomes several problems simultaneously. I found this really exciting and am looking forward to learning more about it in the future.


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