In improving the capability of 5G technology, enhancing ceramics, have been a central focus
For putting end to dropped calls and buffering, and greater connectivity to advance autonomous vehicle development, remote surgery, and the Internet of Things (IoT), fifth-generation or 5G technology standard for broadband cellular networks, is touted as having finally arrived for ultrafast download speeds.
According to Michael Hill, technical director of Skyworks Solutions, a California-based advanced-semiconductor company, 5G technology adoptions is still in its early stages. Hill and his colleagues, in their paper, published inApplied Physics Letters, by AIP Publishing, provide an overview on nascent 5G technology and show how enhancing ceramic materials could play a pivotal role in 5G technology development.
5G operates in two frequency bands: 3-6 gigahertz for long-distance links and for ultrafast data speeds, a much higher frequency band in the millimetre wave region (20-100 GHz).
The significant changes needed to fully realize the capability of 5G technology in higher frequency ranges is more problematic than accommodating the lower frequency band closer to the 4G spectral regions. For example, frequency type is tied to overall signal strength. The higher the frequency, the shorter the distance the wave can travel.
For both mobile devices and base stations, ceramic materials have long been used in wireless communications network technologies. Therefore, in improving the capability of 5G technology, enhancing ceramics, have been a central focus. For their part, Hill’s research group has developed a ceramic to enhance a device, known as a circulator, which is critical for 5G applications.
Circulators are three-port devices, typically made of insulating ceramic materials based on yttrium iron garnet, which serve as traffic circles to keep the signal flowing in one direction and enable a receiver and a transmitter to share the same antenna.
The researchers have partially replaced yttrium with bismuth to significantly increase the energy density to accommodate the higher frequencies. Bismuth is heavy element that increases the dielectric constant of the ceramic. The bismuth substitutions also enable the miniaturization of circulators.
Circulators could be supplanted by high-power gallium nitride-based switches as the 5G technology battle continues to heat up. This shows just how early the stage still is for the development of 5G technology.
Hill said, “Millimetre-wave technology is likely to be the Wild West for some time, as one technology may dominate only to be quickly supplanted by a different technology”.