One of the world’s leading experts in Radio Frequency (RF) and wireless communication, Prof Dimitra Psychogiou, has been appointed to spearhead a pioneering research programme at Tyndall National Institute and University College Cork (UCC) to examine a significant communications challenge facing how society work and live today.

Wireless communications have become an essential part of our lives. From mobile phones and media streaming to health monitoring and smart transportation. The use of wireless technologies has provided immense economic and societal benefits, as vividly evidenced during the COVID-19 crisis. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be 2.8 billion 5G subscriptions and 24.6 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connections bringing even further capabilities and societal change. However, the current wireless infrastructure of 4G and early 5G cannot handle the unprecedented growth of end-users and devices due to the lack of bandwidth at “legacy” communication bands and the increasing complexity of RF hardware.

Prof Psychogiou and her research team, based in Cork, will work to solve the challenge of spectrum scarcity while enabling wireless connectivity to many more devices and applications. Her research aims to create generalised RF front-ends and antenna interfaces which have low size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) as well as multiple levels of tunability and the ability to expand communications to frequencies that are currently under-utilised or unexplored, such as those in the millimetre-wave part of the spectrum.

Prof Psychogiou’s research, funded through the prestigious SFI Research Professorship Programme, is inter-disciplinary in nature, spanning across new design methodologies, materials, and manufacturing methods. Her research will facilitate the deployment of highly miniaturised RF transceivers that share the radio spectrum more efficiently. “This will be achieved by dynamically accessing under-utilised frequency bands and by using the same frequency to transmit and receive large amounts of data, which hasn’t really been possible with the current wireless infrastructure. This research will ultimately lead to a much lower-cost broadband wireless infrastructure which will make digital and internet services much more accessible to the general public and support broadband access for underserved rural areas like we have here in Ireland.” explains Prof Psychogiou, Head of the Advanced RF Technologies Group at Tyndall and UCC, and Professor of RF Microwave Communications at the School of Engineering and Architecture, UCC.

Prof William Scanlon, Tyndall CEO, explained the importance of Prof Psychogiou’s research; “With billions of devices accessing a stretched wireless infrastructure globally, current 4G and 5G systems cannot handle the projected growth. For 6G to be widely adopted, disruptive technological innovations, like those being developed by Prof Psychogiou and her team, are essential. We are proud to have ground-breaking research of this calibre conducted within our Institute as it aligns closely to our mission to tackle major societal challenges through advances in scientific and engineering research, from atoms to systems.”

Welcoming the announcement, UCC President, Prof John O’Halloran said, “Prof Psychogiou is an inspirational leader and as the first woman appointed Professor of Engineering at UCC, she is a great role model for aspiring engineers. This SFI Research Professorship Programme Award recognises the exceptional RF expertise Prof Psychogiou brings to UCC and Tyndall, as well as the impact this research could have on the future of communications globally.”

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at SFI said, “We are delighted to support Prof Dimitra Psychogiou, the first woman recipient of the prestigious SFI Research Professorship, which was designed to enable our higher education institutions to attract the very best scientific talent in the world. Her important research supports many national objectives including Project Ireland 2040’s focus on strengthening rural economies and communities, sustaining a strong economy and transitioning to a low carbon society by delivering fast, secure, high-capacity reliable wireless connectivity and ‘green’ communications.”

Prof John Cryan, Vice-President for Research & Innovation at UCC said, “We are delighted to have Prof Psychogiou bring her cutting edge research programme to Tyndall and UCC. This tackles large societal goals and builds on the ongoing strengths in Tyndall and UCC. Moreover, having such successful women leaders in STEM areas in UCC is really important to inspire the next generation of research leaders”