Densifying MIMO: Channel Modeling, Physical Constraints, and Performance Evaluation for Holographic Communications

Y. Liu, M. Zhang, T. Wang, A. Zhang, M. Debbah
Computer Science, Information Theory, Information Theory (cs.IT), Signal Processing (eess.SP)
2023-12-06 00:00:00
As the backbone of the fifth-generation (5G) cellular network, massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) encounters a significant challenge in practical applications: how to deploy a large number of antenna elements within limited spaces. Recently, holographic communication has emerged as a potential solution to this issue. It employs dense antenna arrays and provides a tractable model. Nevertheless, some challenges must be addressed to actualize this innovative concept. One is the mutual coupling among antenna elements within an array. When the element spacing is small, near-field coupling becomes the dominant factor that strongly restricts the array performance. Another is the polarization of electromagnetic waves. As an intrinsic property, it was not fully considered in the previous channel modeling of holographic communication. The third is the lack of real-world experiments to show the potential and possible defects of a holographic communication system. In this paper, we propose an electromagnetic channel model based on the characteristics of electromagnetic waves. This model encompasses the impact of mutual coupling in the transceiver sides and the depolarization in the propagation environment. Furthermore, by approximating an infinite array, the performance restrictions of large-scale dense antenna arrays are also studied theoretically to exploit the potential of the proposed channel. In addition, numerical simulations and a channel measurement experiment are conducted. The findings reveal that within limited spaces, the coupling effect, particularly for element spacing smaller than half of the wavelength, is the primary factor leading to the inflection point for the performance of holographic communications.
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