InterDigital’s Cutting-Edge 6G Research Gets a Boost with Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship



InterDigital’s Cutting-Edge 6G Research Gets a Boost with Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship

InterDigital’s Cutting-Edge 6G Research Gets a Boost with Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship

October 22, 2019 / Posted By: Roya Stephens

As a company dedicated to advanced research and development in wireless and video, we know that our innovations are only enhanced by partnerships with industry leaders and respected academic institutions. That’s why InterDigital is so proud that Dr. Mohammed El-Hajjar has been awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Industrial Fellowship to work alongside InterDigital to support the evolution of 6G technology.

Dr. El-Hajjar, a professor at the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, was recently awarded the prestigious RAEng Industrial Fellowship to spearhead a joint project with InterDigital to advance the research and design of transmission receivers for 6G wireless systems. Just 19 professors and researchers were bestowed Industrial Fellowships this year, based on the caliber of research proposal, direct support from an industry partner, and a clear and significant impact on the industry. Other engineering fellowships were awarded for innovative research in plastic waste recycling, carbon dioxide capture, 3D-reconstructed human skin, and more.

The Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship

Being awarded the coveted RAEng Industrial Fellowship is an excellent acknowledgment of the proposed benefit our research will bring to industry and validation of InterDigital’s industry leadership in developing the foundations for 5G and 6G networks.

“InterDigital is proud to work alongside Dr. Mohammed El-Hajjar on this project and join the more than 50 industrial partners that have supported RAEng Industrial Fellowship recipients over the past five years” said Dr. Alain Mourad, Director Engineering R&D at InterDigital. “This is a nice validation of InterDigital’s industry leadership in developing the foundations for 5G and 6G networks alongside our global partners and top-of-class university professors.”

During his fellowship with InterDigital, Dr. El-Hajjar’s research will build upon several years of collaboration with InterDigital to advance the research and design of wireless transceivers for 6G systems. Specifically, Dr. El-Hajjar will design and develop new signal processing techniques based on the concept of Holographic Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), which enables unprecedented data rates up to Terabits per second whilst mitigating the challenges of complexity, energy consumption and cost of large antenna arrays in Massive MIMO. The value of this collaborative research will be foundational for the long-term evolution of 5G into 6G.

“With mobile subscribers continuing to demonstrate an insatiable demand for data and billions of smart wireless devices predicted in future services for smart homes, cities, transport, healthcare and environments, the explosive demand for wireless access will soon surpass the data transfer capacity of existing mobile systems, said Dr. El-Hajjar. “Achieving the vision of fiber-like wireless data rates relies on efficiently harnessing the benefits of massive MIMO and millimeter wave frequencies. A major challenge for achieving this vision is the design trade-off of the underlying cost, complexity and performance requirements of massive MIMO in future wireless communications.”

As a result, Dr. El-Hajjar’s research on Holographic MIMO will improve upon the current, state-of-the-art Massive MIMO framework. Today’s 5G New Radio (NR) networks have largely adopted Massive MIMO, a concept in which base stations are equipped with an array of antennas to simultaneously serve many terminals with the same time-frequency resource. Massive MIMO utilizes hybrid digital-analogue beamforming, in which the number of users, or streams, depends on the number of available radio frequency chains. While Massive MIMO has enabled high energy and spectral efficiency, scalability to the number of base station antennas, and the ability to employ simple data processing at the transmitter and receiver edge, this method faces several hardware impairments. Namely, hybrid beamforming requires a significant number of radio frequency chains and faces inaccuracies in the angular resolution of phase shifters in analogue beamforming.

Holographic MIMO

Dr. El-Hajjar and InterDigital’s joint project will center around the concept of Holographic MIMO, a new and dynamic beamforming technique that uses a software-defined antenna to help lower the costs, size, weight, and power requirements of wireless communications. In other words, the Holographic MIMO method implements a phased antenna array in a conformable and affordable way so that each antenna array has a single radio frequency input and a distribution network to vary the directivity of the beamforming. Utilizing machine learning tools within the Holographic MIMO design ensures a high level of adaptability and reduction of signal overhead at the transmitter and receiver levels, while enabling support for Massive MIMO that is 10 times greater than what is available in 5G NR today.

The Holographic MIMO technique will be foundational to the long-term evolution of 5G into 6G networks. Though this technique has a timeframe of five to ten years before it matures and can be implemented in future iterations of 5G NR, our collaborative research will enable unprecedented data rates while mitigating the challenges of cost, complexity, and energy consumption presented by large antenna arrays in Massive MIMO situations. This fellowship project also aligns with InterDigital’s ongoing research on meta-materials based large intelligent surfaces with the 6G Flagship program at the University of Oulu, as large intelligent surfaces include large antenna arrays that would require techniques like Holographic MIMO to support efficient and operational beamforming.

The year-long Industrial Fellowship will run until September 2020, and InterDigital’s collaboration with the University of Southampton on Beyond 5G intelligent holographic MIMO extends through 2022 as part of InterDigital’s sponsorship of a three-year PhD studentship program at the university.