Reconfigurable Antennas for Beam-Space MIMO Transmission with a Single Radio

MIMO techniques allow remarkable improvements in the reliability and/or transmission rate of wireless communication systems. However, there are several major challenges towards the implementation of conventional MIMO concept in terminals with size, cost, and power constraints. Firstly, insufficient space impedes the design of efficient and decorrelated MIMO antennas. Second, MIMO traditionally demands each antenna to be fed by its own RF chain, which in turn results in greater hardware complexity, larger power consumption, and higher implementation cost. Among all reduced-complexity and antenna-decoupling schemes proposed so far, the so-called beam-space MIMO has attracted a great deal of interest as a potential solution for addressing both problems concurrently. The key idea therein is to engineer the radiation pattern of a single-feed antenna structure for each symbol period, such that multiple independent symbols directly modulate a predefined set of orthogonal virtual patterns in the far-field, therefore allowing true MIMO transmission using a single RF chain and a compact antenna structure. More important in practice, the transmitted information can be retrieved using a conventional MIMO receiver. However, the transformation of this idea into reality entails dealing with various practical aspects that are commonly overlooked in theoretical and conceptual developments. This dissertation explores the beam-space MIMO concept from the perspective of the antenna engineering, and aims at addressing several key issues associated with the actual design and implementation of beam-space MIMO systems. The early developments of beam-space MIMO concerned switched parasitic arrays. However, the requirement of utilizing several physically-separate radiators is inconvenient for practicable implementation in compact portable devices. To solve this problem, a single-radiator load-modulated antenna solution is proposed in this dissertation. Another primary challenge consists in emulating high-order modulation schemes such as PSK with realistic hardware. Here, an efficient beam-space MIMO strategy is developed, which allows transmitting PSK data streams of any modulation order using only purely reactive reconfigurable loads, and without the need for a symbol-rate dynamic matching network. The approach is illustrated by the design and fabrication of a realistic antenna for QPSK signaling. The performance of a beam-space MIMO system which utilizes the fabricated antenna is then investigated through over-the-air experiments, and compared with conventional MIMO in realistic environments. Embedding information in the radiation patterns, beam-space MIMO systems are expected to be inherently prone to multiplexing performance degradation in the presence of external field perturbation. This makes the study of near-field interaction influence on beam-space MIMO distinct from those carried out for the case of conventional systems. This issue is considered for the first time in this dissertation. Moreover, like any reconfigurable system, a beam-space MIMO system may suffer from bandwidth expansion of the transmitted signals. The final part of the work is directed towards this important issue. To reduce out-of-band radiation effect, a solution based on shaping the time-domain response of the reconfigurable components is presented. The studies presented in this thesis constitute a crucial step towards MIMO with simpler and cheaper hardware for real-life terminals.


Related material