CE24 - Micro et nanotechnologies pour le traitement de l’information et la communication

Aperiodic bROadband Metasurface Antennas – AROMA

Submission summary

Ultra-large bandwidth (BW) wireless and the seamless connectivity to the cloud and core networks are driving the access to sub-THz bands and the massive deployment of small cells. To compensate sub-THz path loss, high-gain antennas must be used. Current solutions rely on conservative quasi-optical systems (mostly reflectors or lenses) and, generally, do not offer reconfiguration. Moreover, the bulkiness of such systems precludes their efficient integration on mobile platforms or urban furniture. To overcome these issues, a change of paradigm must be adopted: RF front-ends must not only satisfy the link budget over broad BWs, but be also amenable for integration on the chassis of vehicles or smart urban furniture.

AROMA’s ambition is to leverage metasurface (MTS) antennas to develop ultra-thin smart skins that meet these needs. MTS antennas consist of modulated impedance surfaces that gradually radiate the power carried by a surface wave launched by one port. Unfortunately, high-gain MTS antennas exhibit relatively narrow gain BWs.

To overcome the physical bounds in the gain-BW product of single-port MTS antennas, we will explore aperiodically-tiled MTS apertures, with a limited number of input ports, through which we can sense the electromagnetic environment.

AROMA builds on two research hypothesis, validated in the proposal by extremely promising preliminary results:
1. Since the BW of a MTS aperture is inversely proportional to its radius, we can increase the BW without impacting the gain (G) by dividing the total radiating aperture into sub-apertures with smaller radius, each one fed by its own port.
2. The grating lobes (related to the spacing between ports) can be avoided by tiling aperiodically the aperture and appropriately tailoring the shape of the embedded tile patterns.

Starting from these assumptions AROMA will pursue 4 main scientific objectives.
1) First, we will theoretically study the physical bounds of aperiodically tiled MTS apertures. By increasing the number N of sub-apertures, the gain G will not change and the BW will increase proportionally to N. Larger values of N will also densify the array, precluding grating lobes, at the expense of more complex feeding networks. Hence, one must find the smaller N that enables the objective BW for each tiling.
2) Second, based on the developed theoretical framework, we will select the most appropriate surface partition and impedance modulation. The ideal surface impedance will then be implemented by changing the size and orientation of sub-wavelength metallic elements arranged in a periodic lattice. The antenna design will be completed with the appropriate feeding structures.
3) The third objective deals with the fabrication of proofs of concept (PoC) for aperiodic MTSs at J-band. To that end, we will use photolithography on low-loss substrates or Deep Reactive Ion Etching to micro-machine Si wafers subsequently metallized by sputtering. System compactness will be privileged for volume and mass reduction. Intermediate PoC will be also demonstrated at Ka-band.
4) Finally, the manufactured PoC antennas will be tested at M2ARS platform of IETR, using far-field/near-field measurements with ultra-accurate positioning and J-band extension modules.

AROMA targets breakthrough architectures to surpass the state-of-the-art with ultra-thin, broad-band (>20%) and directive (>40dB) antennas at J-band. AROMA will have a duration of 42 months and it is a fundamental research project that gathers around the young researcher IETR’s expertise on electromagnetic theory, antenna design, microfabrication and antenna metrology. AROMA will be also advised by an external scientific board involving high-level experts in MTSs and THz technology along with one telecom operator (Orange Labs) and one equipment provider (RFS) with whom the above-mentioned target performance values will be refined based on the selected use cases (point-to-point communications).

Project coordination

David Gonzalez Ovejero (Institut d'Electronique et des Technologies du numéRique (IETR))

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IETR Institut d'Electronique et des Technologies du numéRique (IETR)

Help of the ANR 200,123 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2022 - 42 Months

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