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A wireless communication scheme based on space- and frequency-division multiplexing using digital metasurfaces


Digitally programmable metasurfaces are of potential use in wireless multiplexing techniques because they can encode and transmit information without using traditional radio-frequency components such as antennas or mixers. Space–time-coding digital metasurfaces can, in particular, manipulate the propagation direction and harmonic power distribution of electromagnetic waves, making them suitable for space- and frequency-division multiplexing. However, while digital metasurfaces have been used for wireless communication, these systems could implement signal modulation only in the time domain. Here, we report a wireless communication scheme that uses space–time-coding digital metasurfaces to implement both space- and frequency-division multiplexing. By encoding space–time-coding matrices through multiple channels, digital messages can be directly transmitted to different users at different locations simultaneously, without the need for digital-to-analogue conversion and mixing processes. To illustrate this approach, we have built a dual-channel wireless communication system based on a two-bit space–time-coding digital metasurface and use it to transmit two different pictures to two users simultaneously in real time.

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Fig. 1: Conceptual illustration of the space- and frequency-multiplexing multi-channel direct data transmissions using an STC digital metasurface.
Fig. 2: The optimized 2-bit STC matrices for dual-channel direct information encoding.
Fig. 3: Schematic of the dual-channel wireless communication system based on the STC digital metasurface.
Fig. 4: Experimental scenario of the dual-channel wireless communication system based on the STC digital metasurface.
Fig. 5: Measured radiation patterns of the four types of STC matrix for dual-channel direct information transmissions.
Fig. 6: Experimental validation of the reprogrammable features of the dual-channel wireless communication system.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFA0700201, 2017YFA0700202 and 2017YFA0700203), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (61631007, 61571117, 61501112, 61501117, 61522106, 61731010, 61735010, 61722106, 61701107 and 61701108), the National Science Foundation of China for Distinguished Young Scholars (61625106) and the 111 Project (111-2-05).

Author information




T.J.C. suggested the designs and planned and supervised the work, in consultation with Q.C. and S.J. L.Z. conceived the idea and carried out the theoretical analysis and numerical simulations. L.Z., M.Z.C., W.T. and J.Y.D. built the system and performed the experimental measurements. L.Z., L.M. and X.Y.Z. performed the data analysis. L.Z. and T.J.C. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the theoretical aspects and numerical simulations, interpreted the results and reviewed the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Shi Jin or Qiang Cheng or Tie Jun Cui.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Electronics thanks Ertugrul Basar, Shuai Nie and Din Ping Tsai for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–5 and Notes 1–6.

Supplementary Video 1

The process of transmitting two different colour pictures through the dual-channel wireless communication system.

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Zhang, L., Chen, M.Z., Tang, W. et al. A wireless communication scheme based on space- and frequency-division multiplexing using digital metasurfaces. Nat Electron 4, 218–227 (2021).

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