Beyond 5G with Beam-Steering technology

Arathi Nair
Arathi Nair June 8, 2022
Updated 2022/06/08 at 7:26 PM
beam steering

Scientists from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom have developed a new beam-steering antenna that improves data transmission efficiency and expands frequencies for mobile communications that are currently unavailable to current technology.


In the telecom sector, 5G is the successor to 4G as the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. It offers substantially quicker download speeds, with a top speed of 10 gigabits per second. It also has larger bandwidth, allowing it to connect to a wider range of devices.

Researchers have developed beam-steering technology for fixed base station antennas used by cellular networks, which offers remarkable data transmission efficiency for 5G mm Wave applications. The experimental results, were presented for the first time at the 3rd International Union of Radio Science Atlantic, and showed that the device can provide continuous ‘wide-angle’ beam steering, allowing it to track a moving mobile phone at high speeds.

Prototypes of the beam-steering antenna at 26 GHz have demonstrated remarkable data transmission efficiency for 5G mm Wave applications.


The device, which is around the size of an iPhone, is constructed of a metamaterial composed of a metal sheet with an array of micrometer-sized holes spaced regularly. It has a micrometer-moving actuator that adjusts the height of the cavity within the metamaterial. The antenna will control the deflection of radio waves based on its position. This means that a “concentrated beam” can be redirected as needed, improving transmission efficiency.

Dr. Churm said that “Although we developed the technology for use in 5G, our current models show that our beam steering technology may be capable of 94% efficiency at 300 GHz. The technology can also be adapted for use in vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicular radar, and satellite communications, making it good for next-generation use in automotive, radar, space, and defense applications.”

For this next-generation beam-steering antenna technology, the University of Birmingham Enterprise has submitted a patent application and is looking for industry partners for cooperation, product development, or licensing.

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