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Shared Spectrum Metrology Group

In an increasingly congested electromagnetic spectrum, modern RF systems are being designed to operate in diverse environments filled with other devices that broadcast a wide variety of electromagnetic signals.

Anachoic chamber control station

NIST CTL's Shared Spectrum Metrology Group develops metrology tools and methodologies to address the spectrum crunch. The group specializes in three core areas to rapidly address ever-changing spectrum sharing challenges:

  • Metrology for wireless systems: traceable and rigorous test methods for over-the-air testing of wireless systems
  • Wireless coexistence: the need to understand a system’s response and impact on the overarching RF environment
  • Spectrum sensing and monitoring: novel approaches merging thermal noise metrology with studies of distributed systems to address spectrum challenges such as wireless forensics

The group supports the wireless industry's need for practical, rapid, and accurate test approaches by contributing to the development of standardized test methods for wireless devices. Examples include new test methods for cellular-enabled Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, characterizing wireless coexistence, and millimeter-wave wireless technology, as well as standards where measurement science is lacking such as uncertainties in error-vector-magnitude measurements.

In addition to our impact on the communications industry and its hundreds of millions of users, we support Federal and Defense incumbent users who are developing techniques for sharing or compressing their spectrum footprint. In this area in particular, our work continues to make significant contributions as a key technical resource for the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network (NASCTN). The group’s research portfolio also investigates measurement challenges to improve the robustness, performance, and reliability of future wireless systems used in medical settings (e.g., operating rooms), manufacturing environments, stadiums, public-safety settings, utilities, and elsewhere.

Shared Spectrum Researchers - "The Source"

The NIST Broadband Interoperability Testbed (NBIT), which our group operates, is a key asset in our coexistence and tiered-access spectrum sharing work. This work informs CTL's Next-Generation 5G Wireless program, with a special focus on millimeter-wave communications and massive MIMO. Beyond understanding the behavior of wireless systems themselves, the group supports industry’s need to characterize RF signal propagation behavior by co-leading the 5G mmWave Channel Model Alliance, a nexus for global efforts to define the future radio channels through which next-generation 5G wireless will operate. We develop methods to verify the performance of channel measurement hardware and OTA test set-ups having a variety of different architectures. The ultimate goal of these and many of our other endeavors is to assess advanced wireless system behavior so that policymakers and industry leaders can make informed decisions based on NIST’s impartial analysis.

MAJOR ACTIVITIES

The Shared Spectrum Metrology Group engages in the following major activities:

  • Modulated-Signal Measurement and Traceability
  • Reverberation-Chamber Techniques for Wireless
  • Wireless Coexistence Impacts and Test Methods
  • Built-Environment Signal Propagation and Penetration
  • Wireless Spectrum Forensics
  • Shared Spectrum Algorithms and Systems
  • MIMO and Spectrum Sharing

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