Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a model that allows antenna designers to identify efficient configurations for antenna designs in minutes, rather than days. The model is designed to expedite development of next generation “multi-input, multi-output” (MIMO) antennas, which allow devices to get more use out of the available bandwidth.
“Our model produces nearly optimal results, and should save designers an enormous amount of time in reaching results that can be used to create prototypes or that could be refined using conventional modeling techniques,” says Jacob Adams, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the work.
In a MIMO system, multiple transmitters can send data on the same frequency but along different spatial paths. Multiple receivers can distinguish between those multiple streams of data based on the uniqueness of the paths that the radio waves take to the multiple receivers. This type of system requires MIMO antennas which are often planar, or flat, and are found in everything from smartphones to satellite arrays. The point at which a transmitter and receiver connect to the antenna is called a port. If a MIMO system is using two ports, it can double the amount of data being transmitted. And you can achieve greater benefits by using more ports.
This is important because competition for available bandwidth is fierce. Commercial and military communication services must broadcast and receive information via the finite spectrum of radio frequencies, even as consumers are calling for faster download speeds for their personal devices.