Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS), which are made of materials able to arbitrarily shape the electro-magnetic wave front, are nearly passive devices that can adapt or change the radio signals between the transmitters and receivers. As explored in the ARIADNE project, one of the pioneer European actions in the area, the dynamically controlled RIS open a new dimension in designing and operating the future wireless networks – towards 6G.
The recent research results confirm that effective deployment of RIS as controllable surfaces can enhance network capacity and coverage, but also create opportunities for future applications such as positioning and localization. The RIS can be designed as a self-configuring and part of a wireless network infrastructure, adjusting its electromagnetic characteristics in response to dynamic traffic demand and propagation characteristics.
The main advantage of the RIS usage is that they are so-called almost passive elements involving very low-power electronics, representing an environment friendly and low-cost solution which can be easily deployed at walls, ceilings, billboards, lampposts, event vehicles, etc. On the other hand, the absence of power amplifiers and digital signal processing capabilities at RIS naturally pose some design challenges and a trade-off consideration between the coverage range of the surface, its size, and number of RIS elements that need to be deployed on it.
Even the RIS application is a promising solution to enhance the future 6G communications networks, there is still need to conclude related research on channel characterization, signal processing, physical RIS design, etc. Here, beside related world-wide research activities, the ARIADNE project is working towards establishment of the related research framework establishing a novel network concept, so-called Beyond Shannon smart radio environment.
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