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Our research: wireless engineering

Our wireless engineering research in telecommunication networks

Wireless engineering addresses the design, application and research of wireless communication systems and technologies.

Wireless communications in particular is undergoing explosive growth and the convergence of internet and wireless technology promises innovative products and services that will revolutionise life and work.

Using the latest advanced software-defined radio development platforms and radio frequency equipment, our ongoing research projects include millimetre wave communications, the Internet of Things (IoT), wireless imaging and 5G cellular networks.

Millimetre wave communications

Our experts: Dr He Chen, Professor Yonghui Li, Professor Branka Vucetic, Mr Matthew Kokshoorn, Nor Aishah Muhammad, Chandan Pradhan, Shizhe Zang, Deyou Zhang

Within the next 10 years it’s estimated that trillions of devices will connect to mobile networks. They will generate a 1000-fold increase in total mobile traffic, causing both a spectrum shortage and clogged cellular networks. This global spectrum crisis has motivated the exploration of the underused millimetre wave (mm-wave) frequency spectrum from 30G–300GHz for future broadband cellular communication networks.

Through the building of prototypes, this project aims to develop and demonstrate novel technologies for future multi-gigabit cellular mobile networks in the mm-wave band. To achieve this, we are developing the fundamental theoretical framework and advanced signal processing for future mm-wave cellular mobile networks, before demonstrating the developed technologies by constructing the system prototypes.

Our experts: Dr He Chen, Dr Zihuai Lin, Professor Branka Vucetic, Di Zhai, Sina Shaham

This project aims to develop advanced beamforming techniques with mm-wave signals for efficient wireless power transfer, while ensuring safety of humans and animals. We will derive mm-wave channel analysis tools and design beam-forming and dynamic power allocation techniques for creating sharp mm-wave beams, which will have powers high enough to withstand propagation losses and deliver a considerable power to the communication devices and sensor receivers.

We will develop mechanisms and protocols to ensure the safety of humans and animals within the transmission range of mm-wave power transfer networks, by devising obstacle and life detection algorithms and transmitting signals over line-of-sight paths only. We will build a test-bed of a wireless sensor network with wireless power transfer based on the novel methods developed in this project.

Internet of Things

Our experts: Dr He Chen, Professor Yonghui Li, Dr Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam, Professor Branka Vucetic, Ms Rana Abbas, Yifan Gu, Zhanwei Hou, Yuehua Yu

There is general consensus that the future of many industrial controlled, traffic safety, medical, and internet services depends on wireless connectivity with guaranteed reliability of 10-7 packet loss probability and latencies of one millisecond or less. Our research will develop new theories and practical methods for design of wireless communication systems for future generations of internet services.

We will create new designs of ultralow-latency and ultrahigh-reliability wireless systems. It will unite two currently disparate theories of wireless systems and control, which will be essential for creating emerging applications of automated power grids, industrial control, vehicular networks, healthcare and augmented reality. The outcomes will be translated to industry and are likely to have a profound impact on future wireless systems and grids.

Our experts: Dr Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam, Ms Rana Abbas

Our collaborators: Ms Mischa Dohler (King’s College London), Ms Sarah Johnson (University of Newcastle)

We are deriving the fundamental limits of non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA) for massive machine type communications, and propose practical NOMA approaches which can support diverse quality of service requirements. This includes designing novel grant-free access schemes and resource allocation strategies.

Our experts: Dr Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam, Ms Rana Abbas

Our collaborator: Ms Sarah Johnson (University of Newcastle)

Industry partner: Mr Gianluigi Liva (German Aerospace Centre)

Our research concerns designs short block-length codes for critical IoT applications and services. This includes deriving the fundamental limits and proposing practical frameworks for designing highly efficient short-block length codes using both graph-based codes and algebraic codes.

Our experts: Dr Zihuai Lin, Professor Branka Vucetic, Yunkai Hu, Ruichen Luo, Chuan Ma, Xuefeng Yao

This project will investigate the fundamental theory and design the wireless communication techniques to support transmission of short packets with ultra-low latency. The aims are establishing the information-theoretic performance limits of wireless communications using short code words (or equivalently short codes); designing short codes for short-packet transmissions whose performance approaches the aforementioned information-theoretic limit; developing new technologies; and developing a testbed to validate the effectiveness of the proposed wireless communication techniques.

We will tackle the challenges by developing, implementing and validating new theories and design methodologies, which draw upon a wide range of techniques from information theory, coding theory, optimisation theory and stochastic geometry.

Our experts: Dr Wibowo Hardjawana, Professor Branka Vucetic, Zhou You Gu

This project will establish an open and programmable network hardware and simulator platform based on open-source software and commodity hardware. The test-bed consists of three distinct components: an access network that connects user equipment (UE) to the base stations (BS); multiple open source network switches and fixed transmission links that connect multiple BS to the controller; and the centralised controller in the data centre that manages the whole network.

The test-bed will be used to identify the latency and throughput bottleneck and develop practical network resource allocation and signal processing techniques as well for proof of concept for our research in this area.

Our experts: Dr Wibowo Hardjawana, Professor Branka Vucetic

Our collaborator: Mr Obada Al-Khatib (University of Wollongong in Dubai)

Multi-tenant cellular network for IoT services is an architecture in which a single wireless cellular network is tenanted by multiple large-scale IoT sectors such as energy and transportation. A challenging issue is how to efficiently allocate the spectrum resources to serve numerous IoT tenants with vastly different traffic load distributions. In this project, we will develop multi-tenant resource sharing models and techniques to allocate resources in multiple tenants dynamically and predict the traffic demand of these tenants.

Our experts: Dr Wibowo Hardjawana, Professor Branka Vucetic, Yan Maraden

Industrial IoT networks deployed for high-value asset tracking consist of a large number of wireless sensor nodes. As the wireless spectrum available for industrial IoT networks is limited, there will be contention between nodes in accessing the wireless channel. The access contention causes collision, forcing them to retransmit the same packet multiple times and to continuously sense the channel to determine the suitable time for retransmission. As a consequence, each device will have high energy consumption and transmission latency, which is detrimental for many industrial IoT devices. The objective of this project is to design an algorithm to resolve contention (contention resolution) in a way that improves energy efficiency and latency of the industrial IoT network.

Our experts: Dr Zihuai Lin, Professor Branka Vucetic, Xiaopeng Wang, Ziqian Zhang

Quantum imaging (QI) or ghost imaging (GI) is a non-local imaging method originated from the quantum area. In 1995, the first QI was experimentally realised by using entangled photon pairs under laboratory conditions and this was thought to be the only way QI could be realised. However, in 2004 QI was theoretically proven and successfully implemented via classical thermal lights, breaking the requirement of entanglement and extending QI into classical optical areas. Since the reinvention in 2010 the reconstruction methods of QI have been further expanded, as have its applications and scenarios. Our research of QI mainly focuses on the fundamental design of QI and its implementation by using microwave and mm-wave signals. For the former, our interest lies in the mathematical basis of QI while for the latter we are concentrating on the design of microwave/mm-wave QI system structures.

Our experts: Dr Zihuai Lin, Professor Branka Vucetic, Xiaopeng Wang, Yi Wu

The demand for specialised safety equipment deployed during critical conditions such as terrorism threats, conflicts and disasters is on the increase. The purpose of this project is to develop a device with the ability to penetrate through building walls and capture the images and other information of the objects behind. In the scenario of a terrorist attack, the device could be used to obtain the location of hostages and terrorists, providing tactical information for defence personnel. In the scenario of disaster rescue, the device could be used to locate survivors under building debris, saving not only lives but also valuable and limited time for rescue teams. We have already developed and tested some prototypes of such a device.

5G networks

Our experts: Dr Phee Lep Yeoh, Professor Yonghui Li, Professor Branka Vucetic, Yi Zhou

This project will investigate new secure wireless communication protocols for future 5G communications networks. This includes novel approaches for physical-layer security in ultra-dense low-latency heterogeneous networks consisting of large-scale multiple antennas, cooperative relays, drone small cells, and mesh networks. The research will draw upon a range of theoretical tools from diverse areas, including communications theory, signal processing, information theory and game theory.

Our experts: Professor Yonghui Li, Professor Ying-Chang Liang, Professor Branka Vucetic, Dr Peng Cheng, Rui Zhang, Yizhen Xu

This project aims to develop a novel spectrum sharing and management paradigm for future wireless networks, to address the spectrum scarcity intensified by the emerging IoT applications. We are developing new methods to enable the future radio to intelligently decide when, where and how to use the spectrum resources. We will tackle the challenges by developing and validating new theories and methods, drawing upon the advances in the domains of artificial intelligence. 

Our experts: Dr Wibowo Hardjawana, Professor Branka Vucetic, Yuhong Liu, Naufan Raharya, Wenhao Zhao

As the radio spectrum for cellular services is quickly running out, the next generation cellular networks require some fundamental technology advances to meet the exponentially growing traffic demand. In this project, we propose wireless network slicing where multiple heterogeneous services are given resources slices, created from a combination of available radio and computation resources to achieve a substantially higher system capacity and low latency without acquiring an additional spectrum. Key research issues will be addressed by developing optimisation frameworks and advanced resource slicing management techniques. The outcomes are likely to result in significant improvements in network capacity, security, spectral efficiency and latency.

Our experts: Dr Wibowo Hardjawana, Professor Branka Vucetic, Yuhong Liu, Naufan Raharya

As the radio spectrum for cellular services quickly runs out, the next generation cellular networks require some fundamental technology advances to meet the exponentially growing traffic demand. This project aims to produce a cloud-based massive multiple-input multiple-output cellular system, to achieve a substantially higher system capacity without additional spectrum. Key research issues will be addressed by developing novel interference suppression techniques based on joint signal processing and cloud-based resource allocations. It also aims to leverage recent advances in cloud-based optimisation and use interference cancellation to provide fundamentally new approaches in increasing the capacity of cellular systems.

Our experts: Dr Wibowo Hardjawana, Professor Yonghui Li, Professor Branka Vucetic, Rui Dong

Wireless operators are facing an unprecedented increase in a new cellular traffic demand, predicted to expand 1000 times by 2020. These new demands could lead to a spectrum outage, motivating multiple network operators to share their current spectrum with each other in each base station (BS), equipped with multiple antennas. In this case the network operators will function as virtual operators (VOs), operating in the same spectrum within a single BS. As a consequence, there is the risk of interference in uplink transmissions by users from different VOs.

Our hypothesis is that steering the receive beamforming in vertical and horizontal directions for each VO in the BS in different directions in a way they are not interfering with each other can effectively cancel this interference. In this case, spectrum efficiency can be increased for all VOs and the quality of service for each user from VOs can be guaranteed as well.