February 9, 2017 — IBM Research and Ericsson have created a compact silicon-based millimeterWave (mmWave) phased array antenna module designed for 5G base stations.
The 28-GHz antenna is the result of a two-year collaboration, which brought together IBM’s knowledge of highly integrated phased array mmWave integrated circuits and antenna-in-package solutions and Ericsson’s expertise in circuit and system design for mobile communications.
The module, which consists of four monolithic integrated circuits and 64 dual-polarized antennas, measures approximately 2.8 inches by 2.8 inches.
Another feature of the antenna reported by the team is concurrent dual-polarization operation in transmit and receive modes. This capability enables one phased array antenna module to form two beams simultaneously, doubling the number of users to be served at the same time and so improving the overall value and economics of the technology.
A major hurdle for the use of mmWave signals in mobile communications is achieving sufficient range between radios to support target applications. At 28 GHz, each antenna is tiny and individually would support short communication distances, but combining multiple such tiny antennas not only increases the range but also enables steering of signals in specific directions. The IBM and Ericsson team’s phased array design supports beam-steering resolution of less than 1.4 degrees for high precision pointing of the beam towards users.