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NIST 5G Research Aims to Aid in Millimeter Wave Antenna Design, Slashing Potential Costs

December 12, 2018 By Finley Engineering in

‘The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)has devised a new way of evaluating and selecting optimal antenna designs for 5G phones, other wireless devices and base stations. The NIST 5G research could help boost 5G wireless network capacity and slash costs, the institute said.

Some 5G systems will use higher, millimeter-wave frequency bands, but transmissions at these frequencies lose plenty of energy along the way, weakening received signal strength. One solution to combat this signal loss is “smart” antennas that can form unusually narrow beams and rapidly steer them in different directions.

NIST 5G Research

According to NIST, its millimeter wave antenna work is the first detailed measurement-based study of how antenna beamwidth and orientation interact with the environment to affect millimeter-wave signal transmission. NIST measurements covering a broad range of antenna beam angles are converted into an omnidirectional antenna pattern covering all angles equally. The omnidirectional pattern can then be segmented into narrower and narrower beamwidths, enabling users to evaluate and model how antenna beam characteristics are expected to perform in specific types of wireless channels.

NIST says its new measurement-based method enables system designers and engineers to evaluate the most appropriate antenna beamwidths for real environments.

“Our new method could reduce costs by enabling greater success with initial network design, eliminating much of the trial and error that is now required,” NIST engineer Kate Remley said in a prepared statement. “The method also would foster the use of new base stations that transmit to several users either simultaneously or in rapid succession without one antenna beam interfering with another. This, in turn, would increase network capacity and reduce costs with higher reliability.”

An engineer could use the method to select an antenna that best suits a particular application. For example, the engineer may choose a beamwidth that is narrow enough to avoid reflections off certain surfaces or that allows multiple antennas to coexist without interference.