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Microwave vs Terahertz vs FSO | Difference between Microwave Terahertz FSO

This page compares Microwave vs Terahertz vs FSO and describes difference between Microwave vs Terahertz vs FSO (Free Space Optics).

Introduction: These are frequencies which fall in EM (Electromagnetic) Spectrum as shown. Terahertz lies in between microwave and free space optical range. They are used for different applications based on their propagation characteristics in different mediums.

Microwave vs Terahertz vs FSO

Let us derive comparison between these three frequencies based on various parameters such as frequency, bandwidth, power, noise figure and sensitivity of receiver, speed of processing the signal, data rate, size, power consumption, continuity of communication, spreading loss, atmospheric loss and their respective applications.

Difference between Microwave vs Terahertz vs FSO

Following table mentions difference between microwave, Terahertz (THz) and FSO (Free Space Optics).

Features Microwave Terahertz FSO
• Frequency range 30 to 300 GHz 0.1 tp 10 THz Greater than 300 GHz
• Bandwidth MHz up to several GHz Tens up to hundreds of GHz Tens of GHz
• Transmit power Watts Milliwatts dozens of watts
• Noise figure (Receiver) ~ 5 dB ~ 15 dB ~ 15 dB
• Sensitivity -120 dBm -48 dBm -56 dBm
• Signal processing speed About Gbps About 10 Gbps About 10 Gbps
• Data rate At most 10 Gbps About 100 Gbps About 100 Gbps
• Power consumption High Low High
• Size of system Large Small Bulky
• Communication continuity All day All day Intermittent
• Spreading loss Low Medium High
• Atmospheric loss No clear effect at microwave frequencies Water and oxygen molecules affect THz frequencies Water and carbon dioxide molecules at FSO
• Applications Television, satellite and radar communications, microwave point to point long distance LOS communication links Spectroscopy, Pulsed imaging, communication, sensing, mine detection, security, organic material detection, bio-chemical agent detection etc. Businesses and homes, inter-satellite communication, disaster recovery, hospitals, cellular communication back-haul, video conferencing, fiber communication backup, multi-campus connectivity in universities, links in difficult terrains, temporary links and more.

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