5G promises ultra-reliable, low latency data links for real time communication and support for a large number of connected devices in small areas. It will open up new ways of doing business with unprecedented opportunities across diverse industries, from smart manufacturing to autonomous driving to remote surgery.
However, 5G technology also comes with a step-change in complexity with technical challenges around adding new frequency bands which requires comprehensive effort in design, testing, and validation of equipment.
The ecosystem players in the telecommunications industry—device manufacturers and network infrastructure providers—face significant challenges with more than one engineering problems. They need to deliver high performance designs in a short time at lower costs – without compromising compliance and safety standards, that is.
Smartphones are anyway compact and densely packed. Adding 5G support adds further complexity to smartphone design by introducing two major frequency ranges – sub 6GHz and mm-wave that operates above 24GHz (The mm-wave band is brand new for cellular communications and is traditionally used for radar detection.). Also, 5G mm-wave antennas are electrically very small and are particularly sensitive to small geometric variations.
Hence, the design requires innovative high-performance solutions that do not create electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) or electromagnetic interference (EMI) issues. Additional considerations include thermal performance and mechanical tolerances of the components.
Along with the overall packaging constraints and general sensitivity of antennas to surrounding materials, there is a range of challenges in achieving the desired 5G antenna performance. There is, therefore, a definite need for well-integrated, multi-physics, and multi-domain product design.
And when it comes to connectivity in transportation and mobility, i.e. electric and autonomous vehicles, several questions need to be answered.
- Will vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connections be reliable in complex dynamic environments?
- What is the impact of soiling on antennas and sensors?
- Will communication systems work after a crash?
- Will all electronic systems work in each other’s presence?
- Will the cabling network allow reliable high-speed data transfer?
- Are electronic systems designed with 5G performance in mind?
A more effective solution to measure the 5G mm wave antenna-on-chip performance by itself and in the user equipment is to use electromagnetic simulation. The large amount of simulation data can be processed automatically to produce meaningful coverage or power-density metrics with minimal user effort or intervention.
There’s also a need to balance performance and safety. For any equipment that is used in the immediate vicinity of a person, ensuring the safety of the user is of paramount importance. Certification standards for exposure of humans to radiated fields have to be met before a product can be released onto the market. At sub-6GHz frequencies, the existing Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) standards apply. However, at mm-wave frequencies, field penetration into the human body is very small. SAR is not an appropriate measure of human exposure since most of the energy is reflected, and most of the field that does enter the body dissipates within 3 mm of the surface. Rather, it is proposed to measure the power flow on surfaces at a certain distance from the device.
This pervasive simulation throughout the design process, from early concept exploration to virtual compliance testing, can be achieved with Dassault Systèmes’ extensive portfolio of simulation technology. Their SIMULIA portfolio of simulation technology includes mechanical, structural, and stress analysis with Abaqus, electromagnetic simulation with CST Studio Suite, and other tools for thermal, fatigue, and system simulation.
It also integrates with the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform allowing competitive products to be brought to market on time and on budget, despite the increased challenges posed by designing for 5G. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a cloud-based collaborative environment that connects product development process from design through manufacturing and delivery.
For example, ANYWAVES, the French company that manufacturers antenna equipment for space applications, needed to diversify electromagnetic calculation solutions to gain new market share in miniature antennas for critical systems. The company selected CST Studio Suite to increase the precision on electromagnetic simulation as well as save time thanks to very practical calculation macros.
SIMULIA electromagnetic simulation – specifically CST Studio Suite – ensures the best possible network connections even in complex environments. It allows optimization of antenna arrays and high-speed circuit performance as well as ensures safety and critical regulatory compliance.
5G design is complicated and has many potential points of failure, but simulation can be used to ensure that these delicate, complex systems do not fail. Benefits
According to OPPO, one of the leading Chinese consumer electronics and mobile communications company, the user experience on smartphones is determined by one key factor – speed. And hence, antenna performance is particularly important.
OPPO adopted SIMULIA’s CST Studio Suite to simulate mobile phone 5G antennas. The engineers could analyze and optimize antennas with high accuracy evaluating critical aspects such as antenna efficiency and coexistence even before the first physical prototype was manufactured. The CST Studio Suite simulations allowed OPPO to design and test mobile phone antennas precisely and rapidly, shortening the overall time-to-market by 35%.
SIMULIA electromagnetic simulation provides efficient end-to-end 5G simulation solutions. It offers a library of designable antenna models for rapid synthesis, modeling, and simulation and a complete multi-physics portfolio including structural, thermal, and fluids for co-simulation. Dassault Systèmes claims that it enables electromagnetic simulation at up to 10x the speed of other simulation approaches.
SIMULIA also helps create key performance indicators ubiquitous in the industry, including SAR (Specific Absorption Rate), Desense, TRP (Total Radiated Power), EIRP (Effective Isotropic Radiated Power), CDF (Cumulative Distribution Function), and TIS (Total Isotropic Sensitivity).
Good antenna design and packaging is critical for fully realizing the benefits of the 5G technology. Electromagnetic simulation, therefore, has become a key tool for antenna designers to create and test designs virtually while negotiating the myriad challenges associated with 5G antenna design.
SIMULIA CST Studio Suite has emerged as a tool of choice to explore multi-variable design spaces and consider all of the electromagnetic and structural physics to achieve optimal designs in short product design cycles. Both OEMs and their suppliers are using SIMULIA to optimize and automate 5G mm wave antenna workflows and to automate KPI generation in the most efficient manner.
5G communication is transforming the communication experience of users and businesses around the world. Efficient high performance antennas are key enablers for ensuring a fast continuous communication link. And hence, balancing performance and safety compliance requires accurate modeling and simulation of these antennas, the phone and even the user – not only electromagnetically but across physical disciplines.