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CEA-Leti: innovation to fuel 6G wireless communications

As 5G technology is deployed around the world, researchers at CEA-Leti are already designing solutions to meet the needs of 6G wireless technology. By combining existing manufacturing processes and an innovative architecture, CEA-Leti teams have successfully demonstrated a solution for D-Band (140 GHz) wireless communications.

Published on 25 January 2023

During the IEEE Radio Wireless Week in Nevada, USA (Jan. 22-25), CEA-Leti experts will present one of the key building blocks for this innovative solution. As explained by Eric Mercier, Deputy Head of the CEA-Leti Wireless & Telecom Unit: “By building on existing CMOS RFSOI technology, our current system can achieve very high data rates (above 100 Gb/s) at reasonable costs and energy consumption. We designed a scalable architecture that uses up to four identical integrated circuits (IC) in the 60 GHz frequency band and covers up to 16 channels. A 140GHz final stage IC converts all of the bonded channels to the D-band for both receive and transmit modes.”

Numerous patents protect this innovative architecture. Thanks to more than 10 years’ research in the field of low phase noise at low levels of energy consumption, the team’s demonstrator has achieved the key performance indicator of 20-30 picojoules per bit for the whole RF/mmW transceiver. Combined with innovation in the D-band spectrum, this system is an important enabling technology for 6G wireless communications

Designing the future of 6G wireless communications

The design of this new architecture overcomes several key challenges: First, it can be manufactured using existing CMOS RFSOI technology in order to lower costs. Second, it offers a low phase noise solution with reasonable energy consumption (less than 2 watts for more than 100 Gb/s). And finally, its scalability is ensured thanks to the use of 4-channel 60 GHz bonding ICs. Depending on the required number of channels, the system can be used with one to four ICs to achieve a maximum of 16 channels.

From past experience at other frequencies, we know that there is real demand for a D-band solution, in particular for Telecom infrastructure backhauling. This technology also achieves data rates of 100+ Gb/s for local, short-range applications. Hotspots, point-to-point and other device-to-device communications could benefit greatly from this innovative architecture,” concludes Eric Mercier.

To provide partners with a complete 6G toolkit, CEA-Leti is also investigating the challenges of next-generation semiconductor technology, high-gain antenna design, reconfigurable smart surfaces and the future of high-speed digital processing.

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