New Universal Metasurface Antenna For High-Security 6G Communications

This technology enables the manipulation of all five essential properties of electromagnetic waves, promising a future filled with unprecedented possibilities for 6G wireless communication and beyond.

a, b Photograph and schematic of the measurement setup for radiation pattern measurement of the UMA. c Dual-channel wireless communications link testbed, in which the UMA directly and simultaneously generates two independent modulated waveforms carrying different information. Two horn antennas connected to two vector signal analyzers (VSAs) are used to receive and demodulate the signals. DUT device under test, VNA vector network analyzer, Rx receiver, Sig. Gen. signal generator. Credit: Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-40717-9

In a groundbreaking development, a research team led by Professor Chan Chi-hou, Chair Professor of Electronic Engineering at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), has achieved a monumental stride in antenna technology. The team has created a universal metasurface antenna capable of manipulating all five fundamental properties of electromagnetic waves through software control, marking a historic first in the world of electromagnetic engineering.

This achievement allows for the independent and simultaneous manipulation of electromagnetic radiation amplitude, phase, frequency, polarisation, and direction. Professor Chan, who also serves as the Director of the State Key Laboratory of Terahertz and Millimeter Waves (SKLTMW), described this universal component as the “Holy Grail” for physicists and engineers. As the global research community continues to advance towards 6G wireless communication systems, the universal metasurface antenna developed by the team holds tremendous promise for various applications within these systems. Its waveform manipulation capabilities and heightened security features are critical for the seamless integration of sensing and communications.

Professor Chan Chi-hou (left) and Professor Wu Gengbo (right) showcase the universal metasurface antenna developed at CityU, which allows unprecedented manipulation of electromagnetic waves. Credit: City University of Hong Kong

This antenna can revolutionize next-generation, high-capacity information systems, real-time imaging, and wireless power transfer. Notably, its inherent direction modulation properties significantly enhance privacy and security, rendering it an ideal choice for eavesdropper-proof communications. Professor Wu Gengbo, a member of the SKLTMW and the Department of Electrical Engineering, explained that the universal metasurface antenna can directly generate modulated waveforms in free space, paving the way for simplified information transmission with low cost, high integration, and minimal power consumption. Professor Wu is the first author of the research paper.

This achievement was made possible through a collaborative effort between CityU and Southeast University. The researchers underscored the vital role of this partnership, emphasizing how it enabled the successful development of the universal metasurface antenna by bringing together diverse perspectives and knowledge. The team also highlighted how this invention introduces new dimensions to integrating sensing and communications, promising a future filled with exciting possibilities. As the world moves closer to 6G technology, this innovative antenna technology is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of wireless communication and information systems.


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