Researchers at the University of Glasgow in the UK have achieved a significant milestone in the realm of communication technology by developing the world’s first 60 Gigahertz (GHz) millimeter-wave (mmWave) band antenna, poised to revolutionize ultrafast communication for 6G networks.

Operating within the spectrum reserved for industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) applications, the 60 GHz mmWave antenna represents a crucial advancement as the telecommunications industry sets its sights on the next generation of communication technology.

Led by experts from the James Watt School of Engineering, the research team has created a prototype of a digitally coded dynamic metasurface antenna (DMA) controlled through a high-speed field-programmable gate array (FPGA). Professor Qammer H Abbasi, specializing in Applied Electromagnetics and Sensing, highlights the significance of this breakthrough, noting that while DMAs have been demonstrated in microwave bands previously, their prototype extends the technology into the higher mmWave band of 60 GHz, laying the groundwork for novel applications in 6G technology and potentially even higher-frequency operation in the terahertz range.

The high-frequency DMA relies on specially designed metamaterials—engineered materials with unique properties not found in nature—to manipulate electromagnetic waves and create a leaky-wave antenna capable of operating at elevated frequencies. Despite its compact size, comparable to a matchbook, the prototype boasts remarkable capabilities enabled by FPGA programming, including high-speed interconnections and rapid beam shaping or multiplexing within nanoseconds to ensure uninterrupted connectivity.

The potential applications of this groundbreaking technology extend across various domains. In autonomous vehicles like cars and drones, the DMA could enhance sensing and communication, enabling high-resolution radars for improved navigation and safety. Furthermore, its ability to facilitate faster data transfers opens doors for holographic imaging and global projection of images, with implications for telemedicine and remote patient monitoring in healthcare settings.

Masood Ur Rehman, a senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow involved in the project, emphasizes the versatility of the DMA, citing its potential contributions to mmWave holographic imaging, near-field communication, beam focusing, and wireless power transfer. Looking ahead, the researchers envision their intelligent and adaptive antenna design as a foundational element of future mmWave reconfigurable antennas, poised to drive transformative benefits across society.

As the research continues, the team remains committed to refining the antenna design to deliver even more versatile and flexible performance, aligning with the evolving needs of the connected world. This groundbreaking achievement marks a significant step forward in the journey towards realizing the potential of 6G communication and beyond.

By Impact Lab