6G research presses ahead with terahertz demonstrations
While the new 5G technology is at the first stages of rollout, Rohde & Schwarz, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF are taking a step further with demonstrations in the terahertz (THz) frequency band, related to the 6th generation wireless mobile communication (6G).
The collaboration has resulted in a wireless transmit and receive system operating between 270 and 320GHz, with further frequency extensions for potential 6G bands already in preparation.
6G research is already underway in industry and academia. While 5G introduces mmWave frequencies with wider bandwidths for higher data rates and enables new applications such as in wireless factory automation (Industrial IoT) and for autonomous vehicles, the aim of 6G is to push the boundaries of transmission bandwidths even higher.
Although it is not clear yet which technologies 6G will entail, it is already apparent that frequency bandwidths need to be further increased to enable terabit class data rates.
Wide contiguous frequency blocks can only be found at sub-THz and THz bands, i.e. in the frequency range above 100GHz. The utilisation of THz frequencies for 6G is estimated to become commercial in the next 8 to 10 years. But Rohde & Schwarz has already presented a demonstrator setup for 300 GHz to customers.
The system was also displayed at European Microwave Week in Paris as part of a workshop on mmWave and THz Wireless Communication, where it consisted of 300GHz transceiver frontends, the R&S SMW200A vector signal generator and R&S FSW43 signal and spectrum analyser as well as of units for synchronisation of transmitter and receiver.
Involved in the current collaboration are the Fraunhofer HHI and the Fraunhofer IAF. The HHI works on signal processing, synchronization between transmitter and receiver, and system integration. The IAF contributes with high-performance millimetre-wave transmitter and receiver modules. The joint research targets frequencies above 100GHz, where the primary focus is on the D-band (150GHz) and the H-band (300GHz). Carrier frequencies above 300 GHz are still subject of fundamental research.
A first demonstrator resulting from the research collaboration is a system allowing signal generation and signal analysis at 300GHz with 2GHz bandwidth. The signal can be arbitrary modulated for conducting transmission experiments with Beyond 5G candidate waveforms, which are appropriate for THz communication or for performing channel propagation measurements.