Universal metasurface antenna has 6G applications

Thursday, 18 January, 2024

Universal metasurface antenna has 6G applications

Hong Kong and Chinese researchers have achieved an important advance in antenna technology, by making possible the manipulation of all five fundamental properties of electromagnetic waves through software control.

In what is understood to be a world first, the team developed a universal metasurface antenna that allows the independent and simultaneous manipulation of amplitude, phase, frequency, polarisation and direction of electromagnetic radiation. Their breakthrough has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

“A universal component capable of manipulating all the fundamental wave properties is the Holy Grail for physicists and engineers,” said team leader Chan Chi-hou, Chair Professor of Electronic Engineering at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and Director of the State Key Laboratory of Terahertz and Millimeter Waves (SKLTMW).

As research on 6G wireless communication systems progresses worldwide, the universal metasurface antenna holds immense potential for various applications in 6G systems, as its advanced waveform manipulation capabilities and enhanced security features are crucial for integrating sensing and communications. Suitable for high-security information systems, real-time imaging and wireless power transfer, the antenna’s inherent direction modulation properties also enhance privacy and security, making it an ideal candidate for eavesdropper-proof communications.

Professor Wu Gengbo, from CityU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and a SKLTMW member, explained that the universal metasurface antenna can manipulate information by directly generating the modulated waveform in free space. “We hope that the universal metasurface antenna can work as a simplified information transmitter with low cost, high integration and low power consumption,” he said.

The achievement was made possible through a collaboration between CityU and China’s Southeast University, with Chan saying the partnership between the two institutions was essential for tackling complex research challenges and achieving the groundbreaking results. He added that the new invention introduces features to integrating sensing and communications, paving the way for exciting possibilities in the future.

Image caption: Dual-channel wireless communications link testbed, in which the universal metasurface antenna directly and simultaneously generates two independent modulated waveforms carrying different information. Two horn antennas connected to two vector signal analysers are used to receive and demodulate the signals. Image courtesy of the study authors (cropped from the original) under CC BY 4.0.

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