French startup Greenerwave is working on smart reflector technology capable of directing electromagnetic waves

Promising applications for millimeter 5G.

The Greenerwave startup, founded in 2016 and spun off from the Langevin Institute (CNRS and ESPCI Paris), is developing smart reflector technology that allows electromagnetic waves to be controlled. The company qualifies its technology “agnostic, green and inexpensive” ; claims that she “is poised to revolutionize the world of millimeter 5G by enabling dynamic redirection of radio waves to track mobile devices and thus improve communications even in the most congested environments” and that at “In the long term, Greenerwave would make it possible to avoid the mass deployment of particularly energy-intensive and expensive base stations”.

In fact, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), NTT DOCOMO and AGC successfully used this process on a 5G base station in the 28 GHz band a few months ago.

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Millimetric 5G and 6G: very high speeds, but limited propagation

The press release recalls that “demands for data rates are exploding, 5G will soon rely on millimeter waves capable of offering much higher bandwidths. However, these waves (28 GHz), and those which should reach even higher frequencies in the context of 6G, propagate in a straight line and are completely stopped in the event of obstacles. It is then difficult for them to reach devices that are not in direct line of sight of the transmitting stations. This therefore poses real connection problems for users located in indoor and urban environments. »

To overcome this problem, there are two methods according to Greenerwave. “The first solution, costly and very energy-intensive, would be to multiply the fleet of transmitting antennas and amplifiers. The second is to reflect and redirect signals, but conventional reflectors can only do this in fixed directions..

The second is its smart mirror technology allowing “to develop passive repeaters capable of directing the waves towards a specific device, such as a particular telephone, while adapting in real time to its position, all with relatively simple electronics” ; infrastructure costs would be divided by ten according to the firm.

How it works ?

Here are the explanations provided by the startup:

“Greenerwave designs metasurfaces composed of elements that “sculpt” electromagnetic waves. These metasurfaces consist of a group of centimeter-sized elements called pixels acting as a set of micromirrors. Each pixel makes it possible to modify the sign of the reflected wave. The interactions between pixels and microwaves are driven by algorithms from the world of physics which orient the waves after reflection on the surface. Passive and inexpensive, this technology aims to improve the use of electromagnetic waves to reduce energy consumption and infrastructure costs. […]

On the same technological brick of real-time reconfigurable metasurfaces associated with wave control algorithms derived from physics, Greenerwave aims to deploy its technology in satellite communication in order to provide a universal very high speed connection anywhere in the world thanks to deployments of low-orbit LEO constellations. Indeed, the reception of a satellite signal is conditioned to a very precise pointing. This is precisely what Greenerwave allows with the development of flat antennas that can be reconfigured in real time, which can be aimed in any direction, with unequaled simplicity and energy sobriety.

Greenerwave is also applying this technology in the areas of radar, to produce a new generation of imaging radars for increasingly autonomous vehicles, as well as in RFID, where it allows detection reliability never before achieved. »

A world first and many partners

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, NTT DOCOMO made the first use of a 5G base station in the 28 GHz band and a metasurface reflector using Greenerwave technology between October 8 and 22. For Greenerwave, “This world first confirmed that the smart reflector improves the strength of signals received by a mobile receiver. Radio waves sent from a remote base station entered the test room through a window, and then the reflector was used to dynamically control the direction of reflection of the radio waves. The received 28 GHz signal strength was improved by 20 dB compared to signals received without the use of the smart surface. »

Finally, the company states that it “has been collaborating with big names in telecom research since 2019, in particular through several European projects on the future of telecommunications. For example, it is a member of RISE-6G alongside giants in the field such as NEC, Orange, Telecom Italia, CEA, etc. Greenerwave is present there as the inventor/designer of the main technology: the metasurface reflector (Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface). »

If you want to learn more about this technology, you can find a detailed article on the CNRS website.

Source: Greenerwave press release

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