News Feature | January 19, 2023

Back Channel — The Human Body As A 6G Antenna, NOAA Taking Stock Of Spectrum, A 3D Printing Roundup, And More

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By John Oncea, Editor


Back Channel presents the most captivating news and innovations in RF and microwaves. This week, we look at how Skyworks and Semtech are collaborating to launch LPWAN reference design for industrial and smart city applications, Rohde & Schwarz is contributing to the investigation of sub-THz measurement, and the U.S. and Japan warn that attacks on satellites may trigger a military response.

Researchers have designed a copper bracelet that harvests RF energy, opening the door to novel wearable devices, according to Lab Manager. Bracelet+, a coiled copper bracelet that, when worn on the human body, magnifies the bracelet’s ability to harvest leaked RF up to 10 times more than the copper alone. The idea of using the human body as the antenna came after testing several other materials first, like plastic, wood, steel, cardboard, and even electronics of varying sizes like cell phones and laptops. The RF collection efficiency varied depending on the antenna’s material, its thickness, and, in the case of the electronics, whether they were powered on or not. The poorest results came from a plaster wall, while the second-best result after the human body was a laptop that was powered on.

The development of sub-THz communications as envisioned for 6G will only be possible with a solid understanding of the properties of electromagnetic wave propagation, writes Rohde & Schwarz. The new frequency range between 100 GHz and 330 GHz gains worldwide interest and thus has been the focus of recent Rohde & Schwarz measurement campaigns. The company’s findings have contributed to the ITU-R Working Party 5D (W5PD) report, which will provide information to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radio Conference 2023, where frequency bands beyond 100 GHz are expected to be discussed and considered for allocation.

Space News reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is taking stock of its dependence on specific bands of the radio frequency spectrum and looking for ways to mitigate the impact of interference or government sales. Once that survey is completed, NOAA will be in a better position to communicate with other government agencies the consequences of any decision to sell spectrum, said Steve Volz, NOAA Satellite and Information Service assistant administrator. “It is an ongoing challenge,” Volz said. “We expect to have to fight for maintenance of spectrum. But at the same time, we realize we’re not going to win every fight.”

In 3D printing news, researchers from the University of Oldenburg are using tiny nozzles to 3D print nanoscale metallic structures, BioLab Studio developed a 3D printed bio-scaffold for growing mycelium, Zetamix 3D printed a new dielectric RF reflector, and the Koehler Group is lending a BigRep PRO 3D printer to UnternehmerTUM’s MakerSpace. All of this is according to

Skyworks Solutions and Semtech Corporation introduced the SKY66423-SX1261 reference design for low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN). The SKY66423-SX1261 combines Semtech’s LoRa Connect SX1261 transceiver with Skyworks’ SKY66423 front-end module (FEM) for use in a variety of industrial and smart city applications. “This latest design uniquely leverages our collective technologies in support of next-generation LPWAN deployments,” said Stefan Fulga, senior director of marketing for IoT and Emerging Markets at Skyworks. “Our strategic collaboration continues to produce innovative solutions that fuel our portfolio expansion across industrial IoT, smart city, and smart home applications.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced alongside Japanese officials that they would consider military retaliation in response to attacks on satellites, a policy that puts China and Russia on notice amid looming threats in space, reports “The outer space component of this is important to the security and prosperity of our alliance. We agreed, as you've heard, that attacks to, from, or within space present a clear challenge, and we affirmed that, depending on the nature of those attacks, this could lead to the invocation of Article V of our Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,” Blinken said, referencing the number of the clause in the treaty that covers mutual defense. “That is significant.”