This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:

fact-checked

peer-reviewed publication

trusted source

proofread

3D reflector microchips could speed development of 6G wireless

6G
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Cornell University researchers have developed a semiconductor chip that will enable ever-smaller devices to operate at the higher frequencies needed for future 6G communication technology.

The next generation of wireless not only requires greater bandwidth at higher frequencies—it also needs a little extra time. The new chip adds a necessary so signals sent across multiple arrays can align at a in space— without disintegrating.

The team's paper, "Ultra-Compact Quasi-True-Time-Delay for Boosting Wireless Channel-Capacity," was published March 6 in Nature. The lead author is Bal Govind, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering.

The majority of current wireless communications, such as 5G phones, operate at frequencies below 6 gigahertz (GHz). Technology companies have been aiming to develop a new wave of 6G cellular communications that use frequencies above 20 GHz, where there is more available bandwidth, which means more data can flow and at a faster rate. 6G is expected to be 100 times faster than 5G.

However, since data loss through the environment is greater at higher frequencies, one crucial factor is how the data is relayed. Instead of relying on a single transmitter and a single receiver, most 5G and 6G technologies use a more energy-efficient method: a series of phased arrays of transmitters and receivers.

"Every in the communication band goes through different time delays," Govind said. "The problem we're addressing is decades old—that of transmitting high-bandwidth data in an economical manner so signals of all frequencies line up at the right place and time."

"It's not just building something with enough delay, it's building something with enough delay where you still have a signal at the end," said senior author Alyssa Apsel, professor of engineering. "The trick is that we were able to do it without enormous loss."

Bal worked with postdoctoral researcher and co-author Thomas Tapen to design a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) that could tune a time delay over an ultra-broad bandwidth of 14 GHz, with as high as 1 degree of phase resolution

"Since the aim of our design was to pack as many of these delay elements as possible," Govind said, "we imagined what it would be like to wind the path of the signal in three-dimensional waveguides and bounce signals off of them to cause delay, instead of laterally spreading wavelength-long wires across the chip."

The team engineered a series of these 3D reflectors strung together to form a "tunable transmission line."

The resulting integrated circuit occupies a 0.13-square-millimeter footprint that is smaller than phase shifters yet nearly doubles the channel-capacity—i.e., data rate—of conventional wireless arrays. And by boosting the projected data rate, the chip could provide faster service, getting more data to cellphone users.

"The big problem with phased arrays is this tradeoff between trying to make these things small enough to put on a chip and maintain efficiency," Apsel said. "The answer that most of the industry has landed on is, 'Well, we can't do time delay, so we're going to do phase delay.' And that fundamentally limits how much information you can transmit and receive. They just sort of take that hit."

"I think one of our major innovations is really the question: Do you need to build it this way?" Apsel said. "If we can boost the channel capacity by a factor of 10 by changing one component, that is a pretty interesting game-changer for communications."

More information: Bala Govind, Ultra-compact quasi-true time delay for boosting wireless channel capacity, Nature (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-024-07075-y. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-024-07075-y

Journal information: Nature
Provided by Cornell University
Citation: 3D reflector microchips could speed development of 6G wireless (2024, March 6) retrieved 15 April 2024 from https://techxplore.com/news/2024-03-3d-reflector-microchips-6g-wireless.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Photonics-based wireless link breaks speed records for data transmission

72 shares

Feedback to editors