RISE-6G Turns to Sustainable Side of Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces

March 9, 2021

Written by Ryan Szporer
Sunrise Sustainability Windmills Mountain

RISE-6G, a project bringing together research partners from across Europe, leverages Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS) as a next-generation technology for a wide variety of goals. Sustainability is at the top of the list.

The Sustainability and Security of Intelligent Surfaces

In fact, as aptly named as RISE-6G is, comprising the acronym “RIS” right in the project title, it actually stands for Reconfigurable Intelligent Sustainable Environments for 6G Wireless Networks. Speaking to 6GWorldTM, Marco Di Renzo, Principal Investigator for RISE-6G at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, in France), one of the project’s research partners, explained why.

“Sustainability means, whenever possible, to ensure communications, but also to have geographic areas where electromagnetic radiation is pushed down,” he said. “So, sustainability and reduction of electromagnetic radiation in some environments are fundamental requirements that need to go together with reliable data transmission and high data security.”

On the security side, one of the research areas in the project will be “secrecy guarantees” as they pertain to RIS. Di Renzo described it as a way to use RIS for communication purposes while limiting the risk of eavesdropping. For context, the surfaces have reconfigurable reflection, refraction, and absorption properties to provide a propagation path for electromagnetic waves without a clear line of sight.

“By using RIS we may be able to control the signals in a way that we can make them stronger where we want to enhance the data rate and at the same time we can make them extremely weak where we think there might be users that eavesdrop and detect the transmitted data,” he said. “We can do that in an adaptive way, which means, if we can sense and localise where the eavesdroppers are, we can always make sure that the signal they detect is of insufficient quality to allow them to decode what we are transmitting.

“[With] RISE-6G, the main goal is to turn the wireless environment into a service through the deployment of reconfigurable surfaces that are designed to offer dynamic and goal-oriented control of the radio waves. Two of the services are to make the technology sustainable and intrinsically secure.”

Di Renzo called security a hot topic in the RIS research community that is already the subject of several research activities. However, he said RISE-6G is more of an opportunity to look at the security, communications, sensing and localisation, and sustainability angles together.

“For example, we will never be able to ensure high-rate data communication and secure data communication with the best possible performance if we were to do them alone. When we do them jointly, there will be some trade-offs and this is something we would like to explore,” he said, with RISE-6G only poised to make an impact in generations of mobile technology beyond the current 5G.

In other words, there’s a lot of research to be done.

Potential for Inter-5G-PPP Collaboration

A project under the umbrella of the European Commission-funded 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP), RISE-6G features 13 official partners. The project is coordinated by Emilio Calvanese Strinati, Scientific and Innovation Director of Smart Devices at the Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives-Laboratoire d’electronique des technologies de l’information (CEA-Leti), also in France.

RISE-6G Technical Manager Vincenzo Sciancalepore, of NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH, is also a member of the NEC team working on a separate 5G-PPP project, DAEMON. DAEMON focuses on improving Network Intelligence with the goal of automating network management. Di Renzo said there is a good chance for inter-project collaboration as a result of the connections between the two.

“[European Commission] projects funded under the same call [ICT-52] usually start at the same time and try to end at the same time. This allows us to develop research activities in synergy and to collaborate on the writing of white papers with partners from other projects… DAEMON is definitely one of the projects on which we probably will be able to collaborate the most,” he said, with both three-year projects having begun at the start of 2021.

The Technical Manager of DAEMON is Andres Saavedra, NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH. Meanwhile DAEMON Project Coordinator Marco Fiore spoke to 6Gworld in a separate interview. He seconded Di Renzo’s sentiment.

“There is a synergy across all projects on 5G and beyond 5G that are funded by the European Commission,” he said. “There is a global vision and projects somehow fit into that global vision and they collaborate with each other, which brings a much more complete output in the end and a stronger impact on the actual deployment of the technology.”

Di Renzo was asked how RISE-6G compares to AI-enabled Massive MIMO or AIMM, a different RIS-centric project outside of the 5G-PPP framework, on which he is working. He said, among other things, RISE-6G will look to perform preliminary tests in a real scenario (in a train station, for example) and quantify the performance gains of the project’s proposed transmission technologies and communications protocols. More than that though, RISE-6G simply has a much larger scope.

“[With RISE-6G] we want to investigate a broader range of subjects: fundamental science, innovative technologies, and network optimization, infrastructure, and deployment, etc.,” he said.

Feature image courtesy of Christian V (via Unsplash).

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