Researchers at Ohio State University's ElectroScience Laboratory led by Assistant Professor Nima Ghalichechian are developing a new type of a cellular antenna, as close to being suspended in the air with no support as possible, in the hopes of providing a significant signal boost for future 5G deployments. The antenna design hopes to use new 3D printing technologies and Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems to create a substrate that can safely hold an antenna up while interfering with the signal in a manner far less significant than seen in some past iterations of the technology. Using that tech, Ghalichechian and his team hope to mount up a high-gain antenna with a special lens that can beam millimeter wave spectrum further and faster than ever before.
The antenna design has yet to be tested in the field, but Ghalichechian has stated that the goal is to create one capable of transmitting data at 50 times higher frequency than traditional antennas which use a silicon substrate that causes severe signal loss because it partially blocks the actual antenna. The compact design is being built out with the goal of an 85 percent or higher efficiency, meaning that the substrate must hold the antenna securely in place and the lens must properly direct the antenna's waves, all while keeping at least 85 percent of the original signal strength and speed. Essentially, the antenna must practically levitate, held in place with only a very small portion covered by the substrate, and the lens must be able to direct and amplify waves without reducing their speed and power.
This technology, should Ohio State University perfect and release it, could spark a connectivity revolution. With such efficiency and stability in a millimeter wave setup, there would be little reason to fall back on a traditional wired network. This means that fixed wireless points, smartphones, and other direct-connection devices, and even home and business connections could all run off of 5G networks with absolutely no installation work beyond the fabrication and installation of the transmitting antennae somewhere nearby. Naturally, this opens the way for 5G-driven self-driving cars, massive citywide IoT deployments, and other technological leaps that all depend on a speedier and more stable internet connection than today's industries can provide.