Glasgow University claims 6G breakthrough

Academics have unveiled a new dynamic metasurface antenna which is claimed to be the first ever wireless antenna capable of operating at a frequency of 60 GHz millimetre wave band

As part of government-funded research, the University of Glasgow has developed a next-generation antenna which researchers claim could help deliver ultra-fast and 6G networks.

The dynamic metasurface antenna (DMA) is claimed to be the first ever wireless antenna capable of operating at a frequency of 60 GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) band.

This property “makes it a potentially very valuable stepping stone towards new use cases of 6G technology and could pave the way for even higher-frequency operation in the terahertz range,”, Professor Qammer Abbasi explained in a paper about the development.

The DMA reportedly uses high-speed interconnects with simultaneous parallel control of individual, specially designed metamaterial elements, via high-speed field-programmable gate array (FPGA) programming. These materials are able to manipulate electromagnetic waves through software control, creating an advanced class of leaky-wave antennas capable of high-frequency reconfigurable operation.

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The matchbook-sized prototype can also shape its communications beams and create multiple beams at once, switching in nanoseconds to ensure network coverage remains stable, according to the university.

It is claimed that the prototype could also support patient monitoring by helping to track their vital signs and movements, help autonomous vehicles and drones navigate safely as well as enhance sensing and communication devices within high-resolution radars.

Dr Masood Ur Rehman, who led the antenna development, said: “6G has the potential to deliver transformative benefits across society. Our high-frequency intelligent and highly adaptive antenna design could be one of the technological foundation stones of the next generation of mmWave reconfigurable antennas. The programmable beam control and beam-shaping of the DMA could help in fine-grained mmWave holographic imaging as well as next-generation near-field communication, beam focusing, and wireless power transfer.”

The Pakistan-UK Education Gateway (DePWiSeN project) and government body the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded the research.

The paper, named 60 GHz Programmable Dynamic Metasurface Antenna (DMA) for Next-Generation Communication, Sensing, and Imaging Applications: From Concept to Prototype, was published in the IEEE Open Journal of Antennas and Propagation.

A version of this story originally appeared on PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood

Sofia Villegas

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