Fraunhofer Institutes kicks off 6G research project in Germany

Five Fraunhofer Institutes are cooperating to conduct research activities on “6G” technology under the leadership of Fraunhofer IIS. With the project, called 6G Sentinel, the research institutes aim to develop key technologies for the future 6G mobile communications standard.

The focus of their work will be on terahertz technologies and solutions for flexible networks.

The institute noted that future 6G technology will bring about another stride forward in the performance capability of mobile communications as regards peak throughput, user data rate, reliability, latency, energy efficiency and positioning accuracy. Overall, this increase in performance with 6G will be accompanied by much higher connection density.

“In the 6G Sentinel lighthouse project, the Fraunhofer team is developing novel technologies that will be required for the future 6G mobile communications standard. With these basic technologies for 6G, we want to help strengthen the competitiveness of German industry in a key market for digitalization,” said Albert Heuberger, executive director of Fraunhofer IIS.

The participating institutes are Fraunhofer IIS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications HHI, the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM.

The institute also highlighted that 6G will be built on the systematic further development of existing mobile communication technologies while also opening up brand new possibilities such as the use of terahertz frequencies above 100 GHz, which will facilitate the extremely high data throughputs that are required for applications such as virtual reality, digital twins and autonomous driving.

To achieve this, researchers involved in 6G Sentinel are already working on the development of radio channel models and link-level simulators for the frequency range between 100 and 300 GHz. Researchers plan to develop the prototype of a highly integrated terahertz transmission module and a suitable transmission method for demonstrating mobile THz connections.

The second goal of the project will be the development of software solutions that facilitate the flexible design of networks to align with the application and the current operating conditions.

“The twin technological pillars of terahertz communication and flexible networks are at the heart of the 6G SENTINEL lighthouse project. In addition, we want to create a 6G network architecture and develop technologies for even more precise positioning in 6G networks,” said Bernhard Niemann, project manager of 6G SENTINEL.

The project consortium is planning to merge the technologies developed in the project into a coherent architecture that can serve as the foundation for the flexible implementation of a comprehensive 6G system. To achieve higher transmission rates, the 6G system will generally be characterized by very small cells, the use of THz frequencies and the deployment of antennas with integrated beamforming systems (massive MIMO).

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