CityU team has antenna on 5GLocal | Carain Yeung 28 Dec 2016
Local researchers vowed to develop ultralight, small antennas by next year, ahead of the launch of fifth-generation or 5G mobile networks in 2020.
The City University of Hong Kong project has been granted funding of more than HK$11 million by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Wong Hang, principal investigator and assistant professor of CityU's electronic engineering department, said: "The key to this project is to minimize the weight and size of the antennas. By using novel technology in material science and 3D printing, our antenna design is 50 percent lighter and about 30-50 percent smaller."
Compared to the existing 4G network, the 5G network's speed can be six to 50 times faster, Wong said, adding that the latest technology will power the "Internet of Things" - in which any device can be connected to the internet.
Planning of 5G also aims for more mobile broadband users and to support more diversified big data applications, which will require a huge number of extra antenna elements to be added to the base station antenna resulting in overloaded rooftops and higher set-up costs.
With 20 years of experience in the study of millimeter-wave dielectric resonator antennas, the team became the first to incorporate this technology in base station antenna design for mobile networks.
Traditionally made of metal, antennas can now be made with much lighter materials such as plastic polymers with dielectric resonator technology.
Speaking of some hurdles, Wong said: "Which shape, pattern and structure should be used to maximize the bandwidth? A simple question like this can take you months to solve." There can also be manufacturing problems and Wong said 3D printing helped here.
Department chair Leung Kwok-wa said plastic polymers are used for now with their excellent electrical character.