Design & SimulationMarch 19, 2020

5G Antenna Design for Mobile Phones

For more in-depth information and expert advice, please visit the SIMULIA Community…
Marc Rütschlin
Marc Rütschlin is a SIMULIA R&D Roles Portfolio Engineering Director, working on the technical formulation, positioning and marketing of microwave and high frequency related electromagnetic simulation solutions in the High-Tech and other industries. Prior to his current role, Marc worked for CST as a Principal Engineer, global Market Development Manager (MW&RF) and Industry Development Manager (High Tech). He joined CST in 2007 after completing his PhD in Electronic Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and post-doctoral studies at NIST in Boulder, Colorado, and at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, working on electromagnetic wave propagation in buildings and small antenna design respectively.

For more in-depth information and expert advice, please visit the SIMULIA Community for a variety of resources about 5G, antennas, phone design and more. This particular post on the SIMULIA Community is a great place to start. 

Looking for everything CST Studio Suite? Start here.

Looking for everything Antenna Magus? Start here.

Also check out our, 5G mm-Wave Compatible Phone Cover Design

5G is upon us. The promise of higher speed for high data rate communication and lower latency for real-time interaction is alluring for users. This combination will not only provide for new video formats like 360 degree video (video traffic is expected to account for 73% of all mobile data traffic by 2023), but also enable new technologies such as autonomous driving, augmented or virtual reality interaction, and a tactile internet with applications in fields ranging from industry automation and transport systems to healthcare, education and gaming.

Antenna design for mobile phones has always been a challenging topic for engineers, and designing antennas to support the new 5G frequency bands will raise the bar further. Two frequency ranges are of most interest: frequency range 1 for sub 6 GHz bands communication and frequency range 2 for communication at the millimeter (mm) wave frequencies above 24 GHz. Some of the bands are still under discussion, and the exact frequency designations will vary geographically. Initial phone integration has focused on sub 6 GHz antennas, and millions of subscribers around the world already have 5G mobile phone contracts. mm-Wave support has initially been used for providing broadband links to homes or other fixed infrastructure, but is gradually finding its way into mobile phones too.

Design Challenges

Simulation plays a fundamental role in designing antennas in general, and especially for designing the highly customized, individually tailored, antennas found in compact mobile devices. The challenges in the two frequency ranges are different, though.

Sub 6 GHz Antennas

Sub 6 GHz antennas have to be designed in the context of the compact mobile phone, fitting in to whatever space is available among all the other components which are densely packed into the form factor specified by the design team. Of course it is not only 5G capable antennas that are required. 5G will be used alongside existing 4G, 3G and Wi-Fi communication channels. This increases the number of antennas to be integrated in the phone, especially since most of these standards also include support for Massive Input Massive Output (MIMO) multi-antenna operation. Even if individual elements can cater for different standards simultaneously, there will still be a requirement for housing at least half a dozen antennas.

mm-Wave Antennas

The increasing demand in mobile data traffic will require mm-wave communication to complement sub 6 GHz massive MIMO. Research into mm-wave antenna integration in mobile devices is well under way. The small physical size of antennas at or above 28 GHz makes the use of chip-integrated arrays – often containing four elements – an interesting option. These antennas have a high gain and support multiple beams, thus addressing the design goals of providing a high quality data link in all directions around the phone.

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