On-chip Antennas and Arrays for Future 6G

Project: Research

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While the first deployments of 5G were only made in April 2019, several countries, including China and Finland already spearheaded their research on 6G with frequencies in the terahertz (THz) realm, initially at 0.252 to 0.325 THz. 6G will have the speed equality of fiber at terabit-per-second, microsecond latency and almost unlimited bandwidth for the connectivity of numerous mobile and Internet-of-Things devices in the vicinity. The first 6G Wireless Summit was already held in Finland in March 2019. The deployment of 6G is expected in 2030 to satisfy the unfulfilled demands not met with by 5G. As China is leading in 5G technologies, it is envisaged that other countries would step up their efforts in 6G, a more level playing field. In fact, an eight-year, €250 million 6G Flagship program has been established at the University of Oulu with support from the Finnish government and industrial partners including Nokia. A 6G wireless link requires THz antennas. In this project, we embark on designing THz on-chip antennas (OCAs) and arrays using TSMC 65-nm CMOS technology. OCA eliminates the parasitic effects and uncertainty introduced by interconnections with the chip leading to enhanced performance, smaller overall system size and lower cost. Conventional OCAs are impeded with high losses, unstable patterns and low gain. Their bandwidth is also limited as the separation between the bottom (M1) and top (M10) metal layer is less than 9μm, which is only 0.0096 free-space wavelength (λo) at 0.325 THz. In contrast, this thickness translates to 0.032λo at 1 THz which allows for the realization of antenna arrays or frequency-scanning antennas with affordable chip size. In this project, we propose wide impedance- and gain-bandwidth OCAs with chip-integrated dielectric resonators (CIDRs). CIDRs exploit the inherent high-dielectric-constant silicon substrate in CMOS technology, a prevailing challenge in OCA designs, as a rectangular DR excited by a planar antenna. Our preliminary design reveals a -10dB simulated impedance bandwidth of 50%, 3dB gain bandwidth of 34.5% and peak gain of 6.5 dBi at 0.305 THz. We propose to conduct in-depth investigation on its radiation mechanism and extend the operating frequency to 1 THz for CIDR arrays. The increased electrical thickness at 1 THz also allows us to realize antennas with other functionalities such as frequency scanning. Through this project, we aim at contributing to providing enabling technologies for the Greater Bay Area including Hong Kong to develop critical components for the future 6G communications. 


Project number9043156
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/22 → …