The Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (IEMN) in France has expanded its collaboration with Rohde & Schwarz on THz communications that use photonic technologies.
In a recent demonstration IEMN in Lille generated a 300 GHz bidirectional link over an outdoor distance of 645 m for use in future 6G backhaul links. The R&S SMA100B microwave signal generator was a crucial component in the performance test setup providing an ultra-low phase noise signal that helps accelerate THz communications research and development to ready it for industrialisation.
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“The research findings will provide valuable input for industry specification groups, such as the recently created ETSI ISG THz, as well as other standardization bodies,” said Taro Eichler, technology manager at Rohde & Schwarz.
Rohde & Schwarz and the IEMN team under Prof. Guillaume Ducournau have worked on high frequency measurements and the integration of Rohde & Schwarz test and measurement systems with photonic technologies to accelerate advances in emerging 6G technologies.
Backhaul frequencies are expected to increase once the E-band communications market is saturated. Potential frequencies such as D-band (110-170 GHz) systems are expected to enter the market sometime after 2025, while H-band or sub-THz bands up to 300 GHz will come sometime after 2030. Developing new architectures and test systems to characterize mmW/THz performance at both the component and system levels is important for these wireless trends.
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“With our expertise in THz technologies, such as optoelectronic THz photomixers, high-speed electronic receivers and THz instrumentation, we are committed to researching new 6G areas, developing prototypes, verifying technologies and proposing advanced measurement services for our collaborators. To cope with the challenges ahead, we are glad to continue and expand our collaboration with Rohde & Schwarz and develop a solid foundation for industrialization,” said Ducournau, head of THz wireless communications research at IEMN.
Recent research collaborations in electronic and photonic technologies have proposed a super-heterodyne architecture that would enable channel aggregation from the V- band (40-75 GHz) or E-band (60-90 GHz) to the THz spectrum.
The THz carrier is obtained by frequency multiplication with a photonics based local oscillator synchronized to a reference frequency. Rohde & Schwarz supported the testing team in Lille with the R&S SMA100B that allows for ultra-low phase noise reference signal generation. This instrumentation approach enables a spurious-free local oscillator feed signal for the THz upconverter/downconverter, limiting spurious tones in THz spectra.
The system is the first to successfully integrate THz frequency duplexing and allow simultaneous transmission and reception at both ends with a single antenna pair. After validating the system performance in a lab, it was tested in Germany with two pairs of antennas over a distance of 150 m, as part of the EU-Japan ThoR project, followed by outdoor, over-the-air tests in France over a distance of 645 m with a system transmission rate of 12.6 Gbps. This is the maximum distance achieved by a THz duplexing system in the 300 GHz band.