PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago
Driven by new emerging applications such as augmented reality, virtual reality, backhauling, and broadband access, the future wireless connectivity landscape of 6G and beyond will support a wide a range of applications with very-high-throughput requirements. Such stringent requirements make the radio access design very challenging. The traditional approaches to increase the wireless data rate are increasing the bandwidth and resorting to multi-input, multi-output (MIMO) techniques. The former is not scalable beyond a few GHz of bandwidth and the latter is often impossible in the sub-THz bands that do not feature rich multipath, which is needed to have a significant channel rank.
A completely different approach, yet largely unexplored, is to resort to MIMO near-field communications, dubbed as holographic radio. The near-field propagation can hold up to a significant range in sub-THz bands, e.g., 10 m links thanks to the very small wavelength. Because transmission in the near field implies spherical waves instead of plane waves, the channel matrix can have a high rank even for point-to-point links. Hence, high throughput can be achieved with moderate bandwidth even in a point-to-point link because multiple independent streams can be sent in parallel.
Your mission for this PhD will be to define a performant - yet realistic - system concept and architecture of MIMO near-field communications and to develop the associated physical layer algorithms, leveraging the specific structure of the channel. You will have to deal with multi-dimensional trade-offs encompassing large antenna count, complexity, theoretical bounds, hardware impairments, to name a few. To support this research, you will develop a detailed simulation environment in Matlab and/or Python. It will be used to evaluate the system performance and optimize the different building blocks of the system. Importantly, it will need a specific channel model for the near-field propagation. The way the near-field channel compares to other MIMO schemes (traditional MIMO exploiting channel diversity, LOS-MIMO, ...) will strengthen the theoretical foundations of this communication scheme. This research may also include experimentation and measurements on a communication testbed.
As a PhD student, you will be part of a large IMEC team working on the research, implementation and prototyping of sub-THz communications systems composed of experts in digital, analog and mm-wave design, wireless communication systems, signal processing and machine learning, channel measurements and modelling. This is a unique opportunity to develop innovative, multi-disciplinary technology and shape future wireless networks. You will publish your research in top-level journals and conferences.
Required background: Signal processing for wireless communications. Knowledge of channel modelling and optimization techniques is a plus. Proficiency with Matlab or Python is a must
Type of work: 10% literature and theory, 80% design, modelling and simulation, 10% design/experimental
Supervisor: Sofie Pollin
Daily advisor: Claude Desset, Andre Bourdoux
The reference code for this position is 2024-085. Mention this reference code on your application form.