‘Beam-steering’ technology increases the efficiency of data transmission beyond 5G

A new beam-steering antenna.


In this digital world, every communication need depends on wireless communication. A robust data transmission model is required to achieve fault-free communication.

New technology increases the efficiency of data transmission ‘beyond 5G’. Scientists from the University of Birmingham, UK, have revealed a new beam-steering antenna that increases data transmission efficiency and opens up frequencies for mobile communications that are inaccessible to currently used technologies.

Around the size of an iPhone, the antenna can provide continuous ‘wide-angle’ beam steering, allowing it to track a moving mobile phone user. The antenna is fully compatible with existing 5G specifications currently used by mobile communications networks. Plus, it does not require any complex and inefficient feeding networks for commonly deployed antenna systems. Instead, it uses a low complexity system which improves performance and is simple to fabricate.

The device uses a metamaterial*, made from a metal sheet with an array of regularly spaced holes that are micrometers in diameter. An actuator controls the height of a cavity within the metamaterial, micrometer movements, and, depending on its position, the antenna controls the deflection of a radio wave’s – effectively ‘concentrating’ the beam into a highly directive signal and then redirecting this energy as desired’ – all while increasing transmission efficiency.

Dr. James Churm from the University of Birmingham’s School of Engineering said, “Although we developed the technology for use in 5G, our current models show that our beam steering technology may be capable of 94% efficiency at 300 GHz. The technology can also be adapted for use in vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicular radar, and satellite communications, making it good for next-generation use in automotive, radar, space, and defense applications.”

“We are assembling a further body of work for publication and presentation that will demonstrate a level of efficiency that has not yet been reported for transmission of radio waves at these challenging frequencies. The simplicity of the design and the low cost of the elements are advantageous for early adoption by industry, and the compact electronics configuration makes it easy to deploy where there are space constraints. We are confident that the beam-steering antenna is good for a wide range of 5G and 6G applications and satellite and the Internet of Things.”

Scientists presented their experimental results today at the 3rd International Union of Radio Science Atlantic / Asia-Pacific Radio Science Meeting.

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