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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W027151/1
Title: Transmission Channels Measurements and Communication System Design for Future mm Wave Communications (mm Wave TRACCS)
Principal Investigator: Salous, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Fang, Dr F
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BT Filtronic NEC
Plextek QinetiQ SinoWave
Thales Ltd
Department: Engineering
Organisation: Durham, University of
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2022 Ends: 30 April 2026 Value (£): 786,349
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Digital Signal Processing Mobile Computing
Networks & Distributed Systems RF & Microwave Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Information Technologies
Related Grants:
EP/W026732/1 EP/W026252/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Mar 2022 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel March 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
As mobile radio systems developed, their operating frequency increased to the millimeter (mm) wave band (> 30 GHz) first used in the fifth-generation mobile radio network (5G). Now, as we look beyond 5G, higher frequencies are being considered with increased interest in the 140-170 GHz (termed D-band) and beyond (275 GHz band). At these frequencies, where there is plenty of available spectrum to satisfy the spectrum hungry applications of wireless systems, new designs are required, with little work done in this area world-wide. This proposal brings the complementary expertise of three world leading UK research groups, to research, design and experimentally demonstrate systems working at these frequencies, in an integrative and holistic fashion. For such work, there are three key challenges relating to the radio channel and the signal and system design.

Challenge 1: to design wireless communication systems, it is paramount to have a verifiable model of the physical propagation channel by collecting measurement data from a specialist and bespoke designed equipment termed "channel sounder", which sends signals over the air and the receiver measures these signals after propagation. Such a model depends on several physical factors, but mainly the transmission signal parameters e.g. the frequency of transmission, the bandwidth of the signal, and the propagation channel physical parameters, such as the channel size and environment and whether it is indoors or outdoors, environmental factors, presence of obstacles, water moisture, pollution and other factors. Professor Salous and her group at Durham has been building channel sounders for over thirty years and the models she has developed are considered amongst the best in the world, used by regulators, industry and the United Nations through the International Telecommunications Union, (ITU). Professor Salous proposes to design and test new channel sounding in the D Band and at the higher 275 GHz band. These will be unique sounders and the aim is to develop unique models and set the standards for future generation wireless systems. The models will be verified in a practical setting through collaboration with the teams at QMUL and UCL.

Challenge 2: The transmission of information at high frequencies requires specialist circuit and equipment design. Whilst there are several circuits for such signals, there are few antennas that can transmit and receive the signals and process them spatially. Professor Yang Hao at QMUL, who has been designing antennas for high frequencies for nearly three decades, will design specialist antennas, to be manufactured using simple 3D printing processes, to integrate to the system designed at Durham for full channel measurements. The designs will be optimized with consultation between the teams and taking the channel models into account. The outcome is a system with multiple antennas that can focus the transmission beams and change their shape and direction (a process termed beam forming) so that a system can be constructed that will fully utilize the benefits of the high frequencies and link to signals addressed by the UCL team.

Challenge 3: for the past 20 years the UCL team, led by Professor Darwazeh, has designed and demonstrated the use of specialist signals for mobile and wireless systems that can maximise the amount of information while minimizing the energy required for good signal transmission; these processes are termed spectral and energy efficiencies. UCL will design spectrally and energy efficient signals, based on the D Band channel models derived at Durham and suitable for transmission using the antennas designed by QMUL; the outcome will be a complete transmission system at D Band with projected bit rates beyond 50 Gbit/s; nearly an order of magnitude beyond what can be achieved using 5G systems.

The three teams bring strong industrial support to achieve what is predicted to be a world first and which brings interest from all sectors.
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