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Nagoya Institute of Technology Produces Groundbreaking Wireless Network Research

Nagoya Institute of Technology Produces Groundbreaking Wireless Network Research

Science News

Addressing the Increase in Wireless Demand with Frequency-Hopping Metasurfaces

In the face of escalating wireless network demands, a groundbreaking solution emerges from the Nagoya Institute of Technology. Researchers have developed a metasurface capable of distinguishing wireless signals by frequency and pulse width, marking a significant leap in communication technology.

The Growing Challenge of Wireless Congestion

As the number of devices relying on wireless connectivity skyrockets, the challenge of maintaining seamless connections becomes more pronounced. The integration of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, the proliferation of mobile phone usage, and the deployment of smart sensors in various fields from smart homes to industrial settings, have collectively contributed to a surge in wireless traffic.

This rise in wireless traffic is akin to increased vehicle congestion on roadways, leading to a bottleneck in available frequency bands. To address this, new frequency bands have been introduced, but they present their own set of challenges. The spectrum is finite, and broadening it adds complexity to wireless devices and infrastructure.

Innovative Solution: Frequency-Hopping Metasurface

In a study published in Nature Communications on January 3, 2024, a team led by Associate Professor Hiroki Wakatsuchi from the Nagoya Institute of Technology, with co-authors Ashif Aminulloh Fathnan and Associate Professor Shinya Sugiura of the University of Tokyo, unveiled a metasurface that tackles this issue innovatively.

Hiroki Wakatsuchi

‪Hiroki Wakatsuchi‬ – ‪Google Scholar‬

Metasurfaces become engineered to manipulate electromagnetic waves. Thereby generating distinct signals and reducing signal interference. The integration of these materials into radio-frequency devices like antennas and filters allows for the accommodation of more users within the same frequency spectrum.

Revolutionary Approach to Signal Differentiation

What sets this metasurface apart is its ability to handle signals in a factorial manner, as opposed to the conventional linear approach. Dr. Wakatsuchi explains, “Previously, with N frequencies, we could control electromagnetic phenomena in N ways. Now, this extends to a factorial of N (N!).” This means that for four or five available frequencies, the number of distinguishable signals jumps from four or five to 24 or 120, respectively.

The metasurface is composed of unit cells that respond to specific frequencies. By activating multiple cells, it can handle signals across several frequency bands. It acts like a filter, selectively transmitting signals based on frequency sequences, akin to frequency-hopping used in devices to avoid interference.

Implications for Future Communication Technologies

This development is timely, as the number of devices connected to wireless networks per square kilometer is expected to grow from a million in 5G to 10 million in 6G by 2030. The ability of metasurfaces to distinguish a vast array of wireless signals could alleviate the strain on existing frequency bands.

In the long run, these metasurfaces promise to revolutionize next-generation communication services, including autonomous driving, smart factories, digital twin technologies, cyber-physical systems, and behavior recognition systems. The Nagoya Institute’s breakthrough signifies not just a solution to current wireless congestion but also paves the way for the burgeoning demand of future wireless communications.

Title of original paper: Frequency-Hopping Wave Engineering with Metasurfaces
Journal: Nature Communications
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-44627-8

Nagoya Institute of Technology Produces Groundbreaking Wireless Network Research