Reshaping Spectrum Sharing Above 100 GHz

ECE Professors Josep Jornet (PI), Tommaso Melodia, Principal Research Scientists Michele Polese, Michael Marcus, and Associate Research Scientist Vitaly Petrov, in collaboration with Steven Reising from Colorado State University, was awarded a $750,000 NSF grant for “DASS: Dynamically Adjustable Spectrum Sharing between Ground Communication Networks and Earth Exploration Satellite Systems Above 100 GHz.”

Beyond 100 GHz: WIoT Institute’s Visionary Initiative to Reshape Spectrum Sharing

In an era of rapidly advancing technology, the quest for seamless connectivity and precise Earth observation has taken a giant leap forward. A visionary research initiative from WIoT Institute researchers, now supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), could reshape the spectrum landscape above 100 GHz. Researchers aim to unlock the potential for coexistence between wireless networks and satellite-based passive sensing systems.

Spectrum Above 100 GHz: A World of Potential

The sub-THz spectrum, encompassing frequencies above 100 GHz, holds immense promise for diverse applications. Traditionally, remote sensing has concentrated on specific molecular absorption lines in narrow sub-bands within this spectrum. At the same time, recent advancements in radio frequency (RF) circuitry, antennas, and digital signal processing (DSP) have motivated the consideration of large bandwidths in the sub-THz range for sixth-generation (6G) wireless networks.

Current spectrum allocations, however, restrict the usage of more than 12.5 GHz of contiguous spectrum within the 100-200 GHz range. These allocations are designed to safeguard passive remote sensing services that require freedom from radio frequency interference (RFI). Both wireless communications and remote sensing need more bandwidths, preventing the realization of their full potential.

Innovative Spectrum Sharing Solutions

This project aims to break through the constraints of rigid spectrum allocations and facilitate innovative coexistence solutions between terrestrial 6G networks and remote sensing satellite systems. The project team, composed of experts in sub-THz communications and remote sensing from WIoT Institute in collaboration with Professor Steven Reising from Colorado State University, plans to leverage detailed RFI characterizations to create effective sharing strategies. By utilizing cutting-edge tools such as the WIoT Institute’s TeraNova platform and the TEMPEST-H8 sensor on the International Space Station (ISS), the team will characterize RFI at 165 GHz and develop data-driven models that aggregate interference from thousands of terrestrial devices.

In simple terms, the TeraNova testbed will be utilized to purposely interfere with the TEMPEST-H8 sensor on IIS and understand the impact of different system parameters, before numerically extending the results to the impact of not just one device, but the whole 6G network infrastructure on the ground. Based on these models, the team will develop custom solutions not just to minimize RFI, but to maximize the amount of resources available to both active communication and passive sensing communities, including some of those recently presented by the team in Coexistence and Spectrum Sharing Above 100 GHz.

The project’s broader impacts extend beyond the laboratory. The outcomes of this research are expected to significantly influence standardization efforts and spectrum policy for next-generation wireless networks. Engaging with established standardization organizations such as IEEE, 3GPP, NextG Alliance, ITU-R, and the FCC, the WIoT Institute research team will promote their findings and contribute their expertise to shape the future of spectrum sharing.

To build trust and confidence in spectrum sharing and coexistence solutions, the project will provide open datasets and models to both the communications and remote sensing communities. The researchers will bridge the gap between these two sectors through workshops, tutorials, and other outreach activities.

This research will not only reshape the technological landscape but also impact education. The team is committed to developing educational materials for institutions and organizing summer schools tailored for students interested in both remote sensing and communications. By training the next generation of spectrum professionals, the project aims to ensure the sustainability of innovative spectrum-sharing practices.

This initiative can potentially revolutionize how the sub-THz spectrum is utilized, fostering connectivity speeds for wireless networks and highly precise weather and climate tracking for remote sensing. With its holistic approach that combines research, standardization efforts, and educational initiatives, this project will have a significant impact on the future of wireless communications and Earth observation.

Abstract Source: NSF

Next-generation wireless networks and satellite passive sensing systems will benefit from broader spectrum access, specifically above 100 GHz, to provide connectivity with extremely high data rates and more precise weather and climate tracking, respectively. Spectrum sharing, however, needs to guarantee that passive sensing applications are not harmed by interference, since artificial signals may affect the reliability of Earth remote sensing. Research on sharing solutions for communications and remote sensing above 100 GHz is timely, since its outcomes can influence standardization and policy for next-generation wireless networks and embed sharing in the protocol stack rather than in an overlay as an afterthought. In this project, researchers engage with standards organizations and regulatory bodies to promote the findings and will provide the communications and remote sensing communities with open datasets and models to build trust and confidence in sharing solutions, creating a bridge between the two communities. Finally, multi-disciplinary educational material is developed for coursework across institutions, and for summer schools jointly addressed to remote sensing and communications students, to train the next generation of spectrum professionals.

The spectrum above 100 GHz enables different applications. Traditionally, remote sensing has focused on specific molecular absorption lines in multiple narrow sub-bands above 100 GHz. More recently, developments in radio frequency (RF) circuitry, antennas, and digital signal processing (DSP) ? together with the spectrum crunch in the frequencies traditionally used for wireless networks ? have pushed communications to consider the large bandwidths potentially available in the sub-terahertz spectrum for sixth generation (6G) backhaul and access networks. Current spectrum allocations, however, prevent communications networks from using more than 12.5 GHz of contiguous spectrum in the 100-200 GHz range. This is largely due to the need to protect passive remote sensing services, which measure natural phenomena and thus cannot tolerate RF interference (RFI). This rigid spectrum allocation scheme prevents both services from benefiting from larger bandwidths, for faster communication links as well as increased precision and opportunities for remote sensing. While this is true for other spectral regions, the characteristics of the spectrum above 100 GHz make the case for more flexible sharing and coexistence solutions. This project develops such techniques by (i) characterizing the RFI of next-generation 6G devices to sensing satellites, including experimental measurements with the TEMPEST-H8 sensor and the TeraNova testbed; (ii) developing large-scale RFI models for 6G networks; and (iii) spectrum sharing strategies for current and next-generation wireless systems.

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering