First digital single-chip millimeter-wave beamformer will exploit 5G capabilities

By | November 17, 2020
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Complete system board with a 16-antenna beamformer array in the center. (The Michigan Engineer)

The first fully-integrated single-chip digital millimeter-wave (MMW) beamformer, created by electrical and computer engineers at U-M, opens up new possibilities in high-frequency 5G communications. The technology could be used to improve vehicle-to-vehicle communication, autonomous driving, satellite internet, and national defense, to name a few.

Beamforming allows a device that is transmitting signals to point them in a particular direction, as opposed to having the signals radiate out in all directions. It is an essential technique for high-frequency MMW communication, which allows for high-speed data transfer, one of the key advantages of 5G.

Analog beamforming has been a standard approach for researchers, but a digital approach has advantages such as large-scale beamforming, highly accurate beam-patterns, flexibility, and the ability to generate multiple beams simultaneously.