The next generation of mobile communication networks will guarantee high throughput to the users, relying on a better efficiency in resources allocation and power consumption, with a more extended use of the frequency spectrum. User-specific beamforming (BF) will play a key role in the actualization of this strategy, especially in very crowded environments, where a precise steering and a fast re-orientation of the antenna beams are required. In the next-future 5G communications, beamforming networks (BFNs) are expected to drive phased array antennas (PAAs) with potentially several elements, whose size will shrink due to the employed high frequency.
Optical implementations for BFNs have been proposed for a complete photonics-based BFN for a 4-element PAA, based on packaged photonic integrated circuits (PICs) implementing the phase shift approach. The PICs are realized in CMOS-compatible Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, driven by electronic printed circuit boards (PCBs).
F. Amato et al., “Ultra-Fast Beam Steering of a Phased-Array Antenna Based on Packaged Photonic Integrated Circuits,” European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC), 2018, DOI: 10.1109/ECOC.2018.8535402, Slide Deck
B. Hussain, G. Serafino, F. Amato, C. Porzi, A. Bogoni and P. Ghelfi, “Fast Photonics-Assisted Beamforming Network for Wide-Band, High Bit Rate 5G Communications,” International Topical Meeting on Microwave Photonics (MWP), 2018, DOI: 10.1109/MWP.2018.8552884.