The 6G component provides the speed and efficiency needed for the next-generation network
Although consumers won’t see it for years, researchers around the world are already laying the groundwork for the next generation of wireless communications, 6G. An international team led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has developed components that will allow future devices to achieve the increased speeds needed for such a technological leap.
In a new article published in Natural electronics, researchers demonstrated new radio frequency switches that are responsible for keeping devices connected by hopping between networks and frequencies while receiving data. Unlike the switches found in most electronic devices today, these new devices are made of two-dimensional materials that require much less power to operate, which means more speed and better battery life for the device.
“Anything that runs on battery power and needs access to the cloud or 5G and possibly 6G network, these switches can provide those low-power, high-speed functions,” said Deji Akinwande, a professor in the Department of Electricity at the Cockrell School of Engineering. and computer engineering and the senior project manager.
Due to the increased demand for speed and power, 6G devices will likely contain hundreds of switches, far more than the electronics currently on the market. To achieve increased speeds, 6G devices will need to access higher bands of the frequency spectrum than today’s electronics, and these switches are key to achieving that.
Making these switches and other components more efficient is another important part of cracking the code for 6G. This efficiency goes beyond battery life. Because the potential uses for 6G are so vast, including driverless cars and smart cities, every device will need to virtually eliminate latency.
Akinwande previously developed switches for 5G devices. One of the main differences this time around is in the materials used. These new switches use molybdenum disulfide, also known as MOS2wedged between two electrodes.
These types of devices, called memristors, are typically used for memory. But adapting them to use them as switches opens up the possibility for devices, current and future, to reach new standards of speed and battery life.
Akinwande is part of a group of UT Austin researchers preparing for 6G. Last year, [email protected] was launched, with industry leaders such as Samsung, AT&T, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and many more partnering with researchers to drive 6G development forward.
The next generation of wireless will be steeped in technologies that have come of age over the past decade: ubiquitous sensing, augmented reality, machine learning, and the ability to use higher frequency spectrum in the mmWave and THz bands. These technologies will be at the heart of the research carried out at the [email protected] centre.
Each wireless generation lasts about a decade, and 5G rollout began in 2020. Akinwande said 6G rollout isn’t expected to happen until around 2030. But now is the time to put all the necessary building blocks in place.
“For the technology to be deployed by 2030, many components, much of the architecture must be resolved years in advance so that system-level integration and execution can take place in time. for deployment,” Akinwande said.
The next step in this project is to integrate the switches with silicon chips and circuitry. Researchers are looking to improve the ability of switches to hop between frequencies, which would give devices better connections on the go. They are continuing collaborations with industry partners on developing the switches for commercial adoption.
Team members include Myungsoo Kim and Sung Jin Yang from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Emiliano Pallecchi, Guillaume Ducournau, Simon Skrzypczak, Henri Happy and Pascal Szriftgiser from the University of Lille in France; Nicolas Wainstein, Keren Stern and Eilam Yalon of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. The project was funded by grants from the US Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Research Laboratory.