Samsung Electronics is celebrating a demonstration it did in collaboration with the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB): the application of Terahertz (THz) spectrum for 6G wireless communications.
During a recent workshop at a IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC 2021), researchers from Samsung Research, Samsung Research America and the UCSB demonstrated an end-to-end 140 GHz wireless link using a fully digital beamforming solution.
That’s 140 GHz — as in spectrum that’s a lot higher than the 28 GHz or even 39 GHz that are fairly popular in today’s U.S. 5G deployments. That’s “fairly popular” in the sense that millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum isn’t exactly wildly popular, though it’s a lot more attractive than it was 10 years ago and all the major U.S. carriers are using it to one extent or another in 5G.
Samsung knows something about perseverance when it comes to newer wireless technologies. There is that long history of incubating mmWave, and mmWave for mobile broadband communications, by the Samsung lab in Texas, where one of the first papers advocated using mmWave for cellular communications. Farooq Kahn, the former head of the Samsung R&D Institute at Samsung Electronics who went on to found Phazr, presented a paper to IEEE with Jerry Pi in 2011 about the feasibility of using mmWave for cellular communications.
The 140 GHz is a “nice band” and a good starting point for this kind of 6G research because it’s far enough from the 5G bands and not as high as the 300 GHz range, according to Charlie Zhang, an IEEE fellow and head of the Standards and Mobility Innovations Team at Samsung Research America. The 140 GHz band is a good intermediate stepping stone, he told Fierce.
“We do have a long history of trying to think outside of the box,” Zhang said.
The end-to-end prototype system that researchers recently demonstrated consisted of a 16-channel phased array transmitter and receiver modules. In the over-the-air test, the prototype system achieved real-time throughput of 6.2 Gbps over a 15-meter distance with adaptive beam steering capability, according to a press release.
UCSB’s group, led by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Mark Rodwell, first developed the 140 GHz transmitter and receiver RFIC in 2017 as part of a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the U.S.
“We bring our knowledge of advanced mmWave technologies, in particular the THz spectrum above 100 GHz, focusing on devices and integrated circuits, while Samsung provides its expertise in wireless systems and cellular networks,” Rodwell said in a statement.
For 6G, it’s still early days, but researchers are talking about a peak data rate of 50 times faster than 5G, as well as further reduced latency. Such improvements will enable hyper-connectivity services and experiences for extended reality (XR) and things like high-fidelity mobile holograms.