University of Oulu

C. Chaccour, M. N. Soorki, W. Saad, M. Bennis, P. Popovski and M. Debbah, "Seven Defining Features of Terahertz (THz) Wireless Systems: A Fellowship of Communication and Sensing," in IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 967-993, Secondquarter 2022, doi: 10.1109/COMST.2022.3143454

Seven defining features of terahertz (THz) wireless systems : a fellowship of communication and sensing

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Author: Chaccour, Christina1; Soorki, Mehdi Naderi2; Saad, Walid1;
Organizations: 1Wireless@VT, Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061 USA
2Faculty of Engineering, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz 6135783151, Iran
3Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
4Department of Electronic Systems, Aalborg University, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
5AI and Telecom Center, Technology Innovation Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE
6CentraleSupelec, University Paris-Saclay, 91192 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-09-02


Wireless communication at the terahertz (THz) frequency bands (0.1–10 THz) is viewed as one of the cornerstones of tomorrow’s 6G wireless systems. Owing to the large amount of available bandwidth, if properly deployed, THz frequencies can potentially provide significant wireless capacity performance gains and enable high-resolution environment sensing. However, operating a wireless system at high-frequency bands such as THz is limited by a highly uncertain and dynamic channel. Effectively, these channel limitations lead to unreliable intermittent links as a result of an inherently short communication range, and a high susceptibility to blockage and molecular absorption. Consequently, such impediments could disrupt the THz band’s promise of high-rate communications and high-resolution sensing capabilities. In this context, this paper panoramically examines the steps needed to efficiently and reliably deploy and operate next-generation THz wireless systems that will synergistically support a fellowship of communication and sensing services. For this purpose, we first set the stage by describing the fundamentals of the THz frequency band. Based on these fundamentals, we characterize and comprehensively investigate seven unique defining features of THz wireless systems : 1) Quasi-opticality of the band, 2) THz-tailored wireless architectures, 3) Synergy with lower frequency bands, 4) Joint sensing and communication systems, 5) PHY-layer procedures, 6) Spectrum access techniques, and 7) Real-time network optimization. These seven defining features allow us to shed light on how to re-engineer wireless systems as we know them today so as to make them ready to support THz bands and their unique environments. On the one hand, THz systems benefit from their quasi-opticality and can turn every communication challenge into a sensing opportunity, thus contributing to a new generation of versatile wireless systems that can perform multiple functions beyond basic communications. On the other hand, THz systems can capitalize on the role of intelligent surfaces, lower frequency bands, and machine learning (ML) tools to guarantee a robust system performance. We conclude our exposition by presenting the key THz 6G use cases along with their associated major challenges and open problems. Ultimately, the goal of this article is to chart a forward-looking roadmap that exposes the necessary solutions and milestones for enabling THz frequencies to realize their potential as a game changer for next-generation wireless systems.

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Series: IEEE communications surveys and tutorials
ISSN: 1553-877X
ISSN-E: 2373-745X
ISSN-L: 1553-877X
Volume: 24
Issue: 2
Pages: 967 - 993
DOI: 10.1109/comst.2022.3143454
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Funding: This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grant CNS-1836802 and Grant AST-2037870.
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