Electro-optical Beamsteering and Beamforming for new generation of 5G Antennas

Scanning antennas are in use in many modern applications, including radars, wireless communications and many others.  The ability to control the radiation pattern with a high accuracy allows establishing an efficient point-to-point communication, where one or more participants can change their locations during the process. Tracking radar, which needs to follow a moving target in both azimuth and elevation, is one of the most celebrated examples.  Recently, automotive industry raised a demand in high-resolution short-range radar-based imaging systems, where high- quality fast scanning small aperture antennas are among the most technologically challenging components. Here we demonstrate a novel technology, which allows performing ultra-fast and efficient control of miniature antennas in a densely packed array and provide ultimate beamforming and beam steering capabilities.

5G wireless communication will provide higher data rate, extremely low latency compared to the current 4G LTE. Successful deployment of future 5G wireless communications requires realization of several software and hardware technologies. Antenna components are an essential part in those endeavors. In contrary to existing antenna realizations in either base stations or single device levels, 5G network antennas meet new challenges. This is mainly due to high propagation losses at millimeter wave (mm Wave) regimes due to atmosphere absorption and building penetration losses. High losses demand efficient beamforming capabilities with fast reconfigurability of radiation patterns (beam steering), high gain and narrow beam width. Additionally, due to the short-range operation, originating from poor propagation characteristics, a very dense network is needed, which also demands low cost of the antenna array.
According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the 5G standard will utilize two major frequency spectrum ranges: < 6 GHz and higher than 24 GHz. The first range allows smoother transaction from 4G to 5G technologies by use existing equipment. This range has the maximum channel bandwidth 100 MHz. The frequency range above 24 GHz allows significantly higher data transfer rate.

In this project we will use optical control signals to provide beam steering capabilities of the antenna array for 5G telecommunications systems. The optical signals will be delivered to the antenna array elements by means of dielectric waveguides. The optical waveguides are based on polymer material which is transparent in RF-domain thereby preventing the disturbance of the antenna array radiation pattern by the conducting elements. The structure will provide fast beam steering with low energy consumption.
Our architecture is briefly summarized in the following schematics:

Fig. 1. Proposed layout of beamforming antenna. ‘RF layer’ is comprised of a densely packed antenna array. Each element within the array is based on a traditional PC-board antenna with a voltage-tunable impedance element. The energy is supplied by photovoltaic elements. Photocurrent is produced by the ‘Optical layer’, where waveguide arrays are used to form required pattern. Each pixel in the optical network is attached to an RF antenna tuning element.

Automotive radars, 5G, Drones


Patent licensed, development towards POC demonstration.



1. Confidential, will be provided upon an NDA



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