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Extremely high frequency

extremely high frequency (EHF)
Cycles per second: 30 GHz to 300 GHz

Wavelength: 10 mm to 1 mm

Extremely high frequency is the highest radio frequency band. EHF runs the range of frequencies from 30 to 300 gigahertz, above which electromagnetic radiation is considered to be low (or far) infrared light, also referred to as terahertz radiation. This band has a wavelength of ten to one millimetre, giving it the name millimeter band or millimetre wave, sometimes abbreviated MMW or mmW.

Compared to lower bands terrestrial radio signals in this band are extremely prone to atmospheric attenuation, making them of very little use over long distances. In particular, signals in the 57-64 GHz region are subject to a resonance of the oxygen molecule and are severely attenuated. Even over relatively short distances, rain fade is a serious problem, caused when absorption by rain reduces signal strength. In climates other than deserts absorption due to humidity also has an impact on propagation. While this absorption limits potential communications range, it also allows for smaller frequency reuse distances than lower frequencies. The small wavelength allows modest size antennas to have a small beam width, further increasing frequency reuse potential.



This band is commonly used in radio astronomy and remote sensing. Ground-based radio astronomy is limited to high altitude sites such as Kitt Peak and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) due to atmospheric absorption issues. Satellite-based remote sensing near 60 GHz can determine temperature distributions in the upper atmosphere by measuring radiation emitted from oxygen molecules that is a function of temperature and pressure. The ITU nonexclusive passive frequency allocation at 57-59.3 is used for atmospheric monitoring in meteorological and climate sensing applications, and is important for these purposes due to the properties of oxygen absorption and emission in Earth’s atmosphere. Currently operational U.S. satellite sensors such as the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) on one NASA satellite (Aqua) and four NOAA (15-18) satellites and the Special Sensor Microwave Imager Sounder (SSMI/S) on Department of Defense satellite F-16 make use of this frequency range. [1]

In the United States, the band 38.6 - 40.0 GHz is used for licensed high-speed microwave data links, and the 60 GHz band can be used for unlicensed short range (1.7 km) data links with data throughputs up to 2.5 Gbit/s. It is used commonly in flat terrain.

The 71-76, 81-86 and 92-95 GHz bands are also used for point-to-point high-bandwidth communication links. These frequencies, as opposed to the 60 GHz frequency, require a transmitting license in the US from the FCC, though they do not suffer from the effects of oxygen absorption as the 60 GHz does. There are plans for 10 Gbit/s links using these frequencies as well. In the case of the 92-95 GHz band, a small 100 MHz range has been reserved for space-borne radios, making this reserved range limited to a transmission rate of under a few gigabits per second.

The band is essentially undeveloped and available for use in a broad range of new products and services, including high-speed, point-to-point wireless local area networks and broadband Internet access. WirelessHD is another recent technology that operates near the 60 GHz range. Highly directional, "pencil-beam" signal characteristics permit systems in these bands to be engineered in close proximity to one another without causing interference. Potential applications include radar systems with very high resolution.

Uses of the millimeter wave bands includes point-to-point communications, intersatellite links, and point-to-multipoint communications.

Because of shorter wavelengths, the band permits the use of smaller antennas than would be required for similar circumstances in the lower bands, to achieve the same high directivity and high gain. The immediate consequence of this high directivity, coupled with the high free space loss at these frequencies, is the possibility of a more efficient use of the spectrum for point-to-multipoint applications. Since a greater number of high directive antennas can be placed than less directive antennas in a given area, the net result is higher reuse of the spectrum, and higher density of users, as compared to lower frequencies. Furthermore, due to the fact that one can place more voice channels or broadband information using a higher frequency to transmit the information, this spectrum could potentially be used as a replacement for or supplement to fiber optics.[citation needed]

The U.S. Air Force is reported to have developed a nonlethal weapon system called Active Denial System (ADS) which emits a beam of radiation with a wavelength of 3mm [3]. The weapon is reportedly not painful, but rather makes the target feel as if his or her clothes are going to catch fire [4].


A recent development has been imagers for security applications as clothing and other organic materials are translucent in some mm-wave atmospheric windows. [5] Privacy advocates are concerned about the use of this technology because it allows screens to see airport passengers without clothing.

The TSA is planning to deploy several machines in airports for testing in the United States in early Spring[citation needed]. These machines have been deployed in the Jersey City PATH train system as well[2].

Currently the technology does not mask any part of the bodies of the people who are being scanned and proposed remedies for privacy concerns include only scanning people who are detected to be carrying an object that may be a weapon and developing technology[citation needed] to mask genitals and other 'private parts', and an article about the PATH system states that an unnamed government official stated this technology is already in place[2], leading the journalist to conclude "there are no...privacy issues for travelers".

Three security scanners using millimeter waves were put into use at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on 15 May 2007, with more expected to be installed later. The passenger's head is masked from the view of the security personnel.

According to Farran Technologies, a manufacturer of one model of the millimeter wave scanner, the technology exists to extend the search area to as far as 50 meters beyond the scanning area which would allow security workers to scan a large number of people without their awareness that they are being scanned [6].


  1. ^ [1] Comments of IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society, FCC RM-11104, 10/17/07
  2. ^ a b [2] Mirror for Star Ledger Article "PATH riders to face anti-terror screening -- Program will begin at station in Jersey City" 2006/07/12 Wed Pg 014

See also

Radio spectrum
3 Hz 30 Hz 300 Hz 3 kHz 30 kHz 300 kHz 3 MHz 30 MHz 300 MHz 3 GHz 30 GHz
30 Hz 300 Hz 3 kHz 30 kHz 300 kHz 3 MHz 30 MHz 300 MHz 3 GHz 30 GHz 300 GHz

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Extremely_high_frequency". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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