Birmingham scientists have discovered a new beam control antenna that increases the efficiency of data transmission for “beyond 5G” – and opens a set of frequencies for mobile communications that are not available for currently used technologies.
The experimental results, presented for the first time at the 3rd meeting of the International Radioscience Union in the Atlantic and Asia-Pacific regions, show that the device can provide continuous “wide-angle” beam control, which allows it to track a moving mobile user. phone in the same way that a satellite dish turns to track a moving object, but at a significantly increased speed.
Developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham School of Engineering, the technology demonstrates huge improvements in the efficiency of data transmission at frequencies varying in the spectrum of millimeter waves, in particular those identified for 5G (mmWave) and 6G, where high efficiency is currently is only achievable through slow, mechanically controlled antenna solutions.
For 5G mmWave applications, 26 GHz beam control antenna prototypes have shown unprecedented efficiency in data transmission.
The device is fully compatible with existing 5G specifications currently used by mobile communications networks. In addition, the new technology does not require the complex and inefficient power supplies required for frequently deployed antenna systems, but instead uses a low-complexity system that improves performance and is easy to manufacture.
The beam directional antenna was developed by Dr. James Cerm, Dr. Muhammad Rabbani and Professor Alexandros Feresidis, Head of the Metamaterials Engineering Laboratory, as a solution for a fixed base station antenna for which current technology shows reduced efficiency. -high frequencies, limiting the use of these frequencies for long distance transmission.
Approximately the size of an iPhone, the technology uses metamaterial * made of sheet metal with a set of evenly spaced holes with a diameter of micrometers. The drive mechanism controls the height of the cavity in the metamaterial, the movements of the delivery micrometer and, depending on its position, the antenna will control the deflection of the radio wave team – effectively “concentrates” the beam in a strongly directed signal and then redirects this energy “- while increasing the efficiency of transmission.
The team is now developing and testing prototypes at higher frequencies and in applications that take it beyond 5G mobile communications.
Dr Cerm commented: “Although we have developed technology for use in 5G, our current models show that our beam control technology can be capable of 94% efficiency at 300 GHz. The technology can also be adapted for use in vehicles, vehicles and infrastructure, automotive radar and satellite communications, making it good for next-generation use in automotive, radar, space and defense applications.
The University of Birmingham Enterprise has applied for a patent for this next-generation beam control antenna technology and is looking for industry partners to collaborate, develop products or license.
The efficiency and other aspects of the core technology are subject to peer review, published in reputable journals and presented at academic conferences1,2,3,4.
Dr Cerm added: “We are collecting additional work for publication and presentation that will demonstrate a level of efficiency that has not yet been reported for the transmission of radio waves on these challenging frequencies. The simplicity of the design and the low cost of the elements are advantageous for early adoption by the industry, and the compact electronic configuration facilitates its deployment where there are limited spaces. We are confident that the beam control antenna is good for a wide range of 5G and 6G applications, as well as for satellite and Internet of Things.
* Metamaterials is the term used for materials that are designed to have special properties that are not found in naturally occurring materials. These properties may include manipulating electromagnetic waves by blocking, absorbing, amplifying, or bending waves.