15 Industrial PhD Student Positions on Non-Terrestrial Antenna Systems for 6G
-PhD offers-

Are you looking for a high impact PhD position in close collaboration with industry?

The European Doctoral Network ‘ANTERRA’ offers 15 fully funded industrial PhD student positions in the area of antennas, integrated circuits and signal processing, starting in the autumn of 2022. 

ANTERRA is focussed on Antenna Systems for 6G Non-Terrestrial Networks. The consortium consists of 14 leading European R&D laboratories from universities, industries, and technology institutes in the domain of satellite communication and wireless infrastructure which are located in The Netherlands, France, Sweden, Italy and Belgium.


Our society is on the brink of a new age with the development of new visionary concepts such as internet of things, smart cities, autonomous driving, smart mobility, and coverage everywhere. This stimulates the use of new deployment concepts, such as extreme densification or Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN), to support the wireless communication evolution. For 6G, a key use case which stands unaddressed by prior telecommunication generations, is that of coverage everywhere. One of the major reasons for not addressing this use case thus far is the lack of expertise about non-terrestrial communication in the classical (terrestrial) telecommunication industry. The European research project ANTERRA addresses this issue by training 15 PhD students on antenna systems for NTN, one of the key aspects to successfully implement coverage everywhere.  

In ANTERRA, the research fellows will investigate particular aspects of the system concept shown in the figure below. For this, they will take a system view by investigating architectural needs and constraints from which they will develop novel multi-functional high-gain antenna architectures that exhibit a large coverage. Moreover, innovations in energy efficient highly integrated radio front-ends is a key enabler towards more efficient, high performance radio-access hardware for satellite nodes. Research in novel synchronization and beam-finding techniques will lead to stable integration of all network nodes into one global 6G NTN. All concepts will be optimized to meet the requirements of NTN antenna systems.


Training programme

ANTERRA will provide the PhD students with a comprehensive set of theoretical and practical skills relevant for innovation and long-term employability in a rapidly growing sector. This highly innovative training will cover several inter-disciplinary areas as shown in the figure below. Each PhD student will be enrolled in a doctoral programme and will have two official employers, one from academia and one from industry. Highly qualified personnel from both employers will jointly coach the PhD student.


Applicants should have, or expect to receive, a Master of Science degree or equivalent in a relevant electrical engineering or apphysics discipline and should not have more than four years of research experience. In addition to the formal Research Fellow qualifications, selection is also based on the performance of the candidates in other works (e.g. thesis and advanced level courses), as well as through interviews and assignments. Besides good subject knowledge, emphasis will be on creative thinking, motivation, ability to cooperate, initiative to work independently and personal suitability for research training. Previous experience in the area of antennas, electronics and signal processing as well as proficiency in using scientific and engineering software packages such as Matlab, ADS, CST, HFSS etc. are advantageous. For the PhD positions the EU ‘Mobility rules’ apply. This means that candidate students cannot have resided for more than 12 months during the period of 3 years immediately before the start of the PhD, in the prospective first host country (Example: a candidate who has stayed in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the last 3 years cannot be hired for the position where the first placement is at the university in The Netherlands).

Applications for the position must be submitted via the application systems of the host organisations. The links are provided below.

Go to Anterra Project Website

Contact: Further information can be obtained by using the contact addresses for the individual PhD projects provided in the appendix or by contacting the project coordinator: Ulf Johannsen (u.johannsen@tue.nl)

1-Satellite front-end system for non-terrestrial 6G

The aim of this PhD project is to develop innovative phased arrays architectures for 6G satellites, that must radiate multiple beams in Rx/Tx with high gain over a wide angular sector in reconfigurable frequency bands, while complying with severe power consumption and accommodation constraints. New concepts based on deployable phased arrays must be explored with integrated radiating elements with wide angle scanning capability over multiple bands, with hybrid beamforming (RF, digital, photonic), distributed filtering and amplification, resulting in a low profile, integrated and deployable antenna. The expected outcome of this project is an assessment of several antenna architectures based on different approaches. The key building blocks must be designed and prototyped. Moreover, specifications of key building blocks for other PhD projects shall be derived.

Jean-Philippe Fraysse: jeanphilippe.fraysse@thalesaleniaspace.com

Ulf Johannsen: u.johannsen@tue.nl


2-Integrated Photonic-RF front-end

The objective of this PhD project is to explore and develop integrated photonic RF front-end solutions based on the latest integrated photonics platforms (incl. InP, Silicon, Ln/Si, IMOS) to squeeze the SWAP of these interfaces while maintaining the required level of RF performance. The PhD student is expected to study suitable modulator technologies for both phase and intensity modulation (with MZM or electro-absorption modulators) and to design an integrated photonic front-end for transmission of Ka-band RF signals with and without frequency conversion. The compatibility and potential for co-integration with optical beamforming shall be analyzed. The expected outcome includes a SWAP analysis for integrated photonic-RF front-ends considering the latest integrated photonics platforms and different modulator technologies as well as the design and prototype of a novel power-efficient integrated photonic-RF front-end.

Simon Rommel: s.rommel@tue.nl

Michel Sotom: michel.sotom@thalesaleniaspace.com

David Prinsloo: prinsloo@astron.nl


3-Integrated HPA-antenna co-design at Ka-band  

This project aims at the design of a high efficiency and compact front-end radiating module for Ka-band flat panel antennas. The thickness, the mass and the cost of the front-end radiating modules shall be significantly reduced while keeping a high level of performance. This shall be achieved through the co-design between the radiating elements and the amplifiers. Circular polarisation will be addressed.

Ulf Johannsen: u.johannsen@tue.nl

Jean-Philippe Fraysse: jeanphilippe.fraysse@thalesaleniaspace.com

Stefania Monni: stefania.monni@tno.nl


4-Integrated HPA-antenna co-design at L/S-band

The research will address the integrated design of linearized and efficiency enhanced dual-band PA architectures with multi-functional on-antenna combining functionality for circularly dual-polarized active antenna array operation at C/L-bands. Multi-domain nonlinear analysis techniques, involving signals, circuits- and EM characteristics will be developed for prediction of the performance of array unit cells in large array satellite application scenarios. The expected outcomes of this project is a proof-of-concept demonstration of an energy efficient unit cell for C/L-band active antenna transceiver. Moreover, a detailed prediction of performance in terms of linearity, efficiency and radiated field pattern when used in 6G satellite link applications shall be a main outcome of the study.

Christian Fager: christian.fager@chalmers.se

Olivier Jardel: olivier.jardel@thalesaleniaspace.com


5-On-antenna multi-functional power combining technologies for mm-wave frequencies

The PhD student is expected to develop a new method for on-antenna multi-functional power combining at mmwave frequencies that can enable linearly dual-polarized, full duplex active antenna systems. The key enabler as presently considered is distributed active feeding of the radiating antenna element that provides tailored power combining and impedance matching with mm-wave power amplifiers. A proof-of-concept demonstration in simulations, joint electromagnetic-circuit simulation results, experimental prototype, and experimental validation results for the developed method for on-antenna multi-functional power combining for dual-polarized, full duplex active antenna systems are expected outcomes of this PhD project.

Marianna Ivashina: marianna.ivashina@chalmers.se

Sam Agneessens: sam.agneessens@ericson.com


6-Integrated filtering antenna array solutions for SatCom

The main objective of this project is to develop innovative integrated filtering antenna array solutions for beyond-5G satellite communications. The project focus is on integration of pre-selection filtering and hybrid dielectric resonator antennas in multi-layered manufacturing and/or innovative packaging technology. Several filtering antenna architectures, manufacturing technologies and integration solutions with the IC shall be assessed and a novel filtering antenna topology shall be developed and extended to an array solution.

Elmine Meyer: e.meyer@tue.nl

Diego Caratelli (Antenna Company)

Marcel Geurts: Marcel.geurts@nxp.com


7-Generic phased array feed for ground station G/T optimisation and RFI resilience

In recent years phased array feeds have demonstrated significant improvement in the field-of-view of reflector antennas. This project aims to investigate the feasibility of applying the phased array feed technology in non-terrestrial communication networks. Towards this end, this work aims to demonstrate that such technology is able to optimize ground station antenna performance for maximum gain-to-noise ratio towards a single, or multiple, satellite(s) within a confined field-of-view, while at the same time spatially nulling local interfering radio frequency sources. In order to deploy a phased array receiver on various reflector systems, a generic phased array demonstrator is to be designed that would enable multi-beam coverage from different reflector antennas.

David Prinsloo: prinsloo@astron.nl

Sam Agneessens: sam.agneessens@ericsson.com

8-Advanced Manufacturing for high frequency feed systems

Additive manufacturing (AM) of high-frequency feed-systems is an emerging technological solution in the NTN communication domain since it can lead to a higher level of antenna-subsystems miniaturization and integration. AM of feed systems exhibit some criticalities in terms of dimensional accuracy and repeatability, surface roughness, and electrical conductivity. These criticalities will be addressed in this project by both improving the manufacturing processes and designing smart antenna-subsystem layouts that are customized to AM. Other advanced machining technologies, including e.g. silicon and metal micromachining, will be considered as viable solutions, also addressing future millimeter-wave and subTHz satellite payloads.

Giuseppe Addamo: giuseppe.addamo@ieiit.cnr.it

Davide Maiarelli: davide.maiarelli@thalesaleniaspace.com


9-Dual-band mm-wave phased array for LEO SatCom broadband user terminal

This PhD research aims at developing a smart dual-band mm-wave array antenna for Low Earth Orbit SATCOM broadband user terminals that can enable both the Rx and Tx bands in the same antenna aperture, while supporting a circular polarization operation over a wide beam steering range with high efficiency. The project shall cover the electromagnetic design, numerical simulation results, analysis of suitable manufacturing technologies, mechanical design, and experimental verification results of a prototype.

Marianna Ivashina: marianna.ivashina@chalmers.se

Lukas Nyström: lukas.nystrom@satcube.com

Giuseppe Virone: giuseppe.virone@ieiit.cnr.it


10-3D radiating elements integrated with RF/digital BFN on board

Nowadays, several 3D array elements are being developed in the millimetre wave bands. The development of a wide angle impedance matching (WAIM) layer in front of the array shall be evaluated in order to assure good matching at any scanning angle. Hybrid solutions of dual-polarized waveguide-based radiating elements will be developed to assure a high radiation efficiency. Besides optimizing the waveguide structures, a high aperture efficiency will be achieved by implementing proper director geometries in front of the waveguide apertures. In this way, sparse array solutions could be investigated to trade-off array complexity and scan angle capabilities (field-of-view). Both analog and digital beam forming strategies will be considered to achieve an integrated array building block with excellent RF, power, EMC, thermal and mechanical characteristics for future space applications.

Giuseppe Virone: giuseppe.virone@ieiit.cnr.it

Giovanni Gasparro: giovanni.gasparro@thalesaleniaspace.com


11-Maximally sparse 3D antenna arrays

Recent research on multi-exponential analysis has demonstrated perfect signal recovery from sparsely sampled signals. This project aims to extend the application of this analysis to the spatial domain by applying the theory of multi-exponential analysis to the synthesis of a maximally sparse conformal antenna array enabling near-hemispherical field-ofview coverage. The theoretical framework developed through this research will be applied to the design of a demonstrator Low-Earth Orbit ground station 3D phased array antenna operating in K(downlink) and Ka-band (uplink), with improved circular polarization purity and scan performance at near-horizon elevation angles.

Bart Smolders: a.b.smolders@tue.nl

Lukas Nyström: lukas.nystrom@satcube.com

David Prinsloo: prinsloo@astron.nl

Annie Cuyt: annie.cuyt@uantwerpen.be


12-Beam prediction for fast moving LEO

Both downlink and uplink beamforming will be necessary to overcome channel path loss. In the downlink, handovers between beams will occur frequently, while in the uplink the beams (which are narrow due to the link budget from power-limited ground terminals) must track the fast satellite accurately. We will utilize that satellite orbits are highly predictable, and design beam prediction algorithms to overcome the high speeds and rapid beam changes. The project aims at developing a novel beam prediction algorithm for non-terrestrial 6G communication.

Hamdi Joudeh: h.joudeh@tue.nl

Ulf Gustavsson: ulf.gustavsson@ericsson.com


13-Synchronisation under harsh Doppler

Frequency, phase and time synchronization will be necessary. Due to high speeds, the channel will occasionally be rapidly varying, and the Doppler effects are significantly larger than for conventional terrestrial-based networks. Here, we will develop techniques able to handle these harsh conditions. In particular, we intend to develop standalone synchronization solutions, not relying on external systems such as GNSS. As a starting point, we will study pilot-based solutions (frequency or time domain pilots), but also develop data-driven synchronization for more rapid updates. Pilot- and data-driven algorithms for synchronization in time, frequency and phase, under harsh Doppler and rapidly changing channel.

Thomas Eriksson: thomase@chalmers.se

Ulf Gustavsson: ulf.gustavsson@ericsson.com


14-Dynamic high-pathloss doppler-enabled OtA emulator

System test solutions that include the antenna interface do not readily exist. Therefore, this project aims at developing a measurement solution to realistically emulate highly dynamic scenarios for communications. The outcome shall be a new concept, demonstrated in an anechoic chamber, which allows emulation characteristics (with a focus on doppler) currently implemented in costly and not-frequency-scalable electronics.

Sander Bronckers: l.a.bronckers@tue.nl

Ad Reniers: ad.reniers@antennex.tech


15-Inter-satellite communication and synchronisation

To avoid discontinuity in the service of UEs, there is a need for a seamless handover, whenever the UE moves from one LEO-satellite beam to another. Cooperation between NTN nodes becomes then essential, and it can be attained only by a reliable and efficient inter-satellite communication. Inter-satellite communications present a series of challenges that need to be addressed in this project, i.e., flexibility, autonomy and self-organization due to time-varying topology, physical-layer design in the mm-wave, THz and optical bands and synchronization to achieve seamless handover between satellites. Machine-learning techniques will play an important role to address such challenges

Alberto Tarable: alberto.tarable@ieiit.cnr.it

Behrooz Makki: behrooz.makki@ericsson.com


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