Reconfigurable intelligent surface (RIS) from Greenerwave.

What is a reconfigurable intelligent surface (RIS)?

  • A RIS (Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface) is a surface whose electrical and magnetic properties can be modified to control the reflection of electromagnetic waves.
  • Placed between a radio-frequency transmitter and receiver, a reconfigurable intelligent surface controls how the signal reflects off the surface.
  • Reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RIS) can be used to direct signals to the receiver to improve reception or the quality of the radio link.
  • Reconfigurable smart surfaces could be deployed in future wireless communication applications, including sixth-generation (6G) mobile communications.

Reconfigurable smart surfaces (RIS) are made up of a multitude of tiny antennas or metamaterial elements, whose control enables radio signals to be dynamically shaped and controlled according to the requirements of a specific application. The properties of these tiny antennas can be dynamically controlled to modify their response in the electromagnetic domain. They can be dynamically and/or semi-statically controlled via control signals to adjust incident radio signals by reflection, refraction, focusing, collimation, modulation, absorption or any combination of these phenomena.

Reconfigurable intelligent surface (RIS) operating principle.

Reconfigurable smart surfaces can be implemented using mainly passive components. They therefore do not require the use of expensive active components such as power amplifiers. This explains their low implementation cost and low power consumption.

RIS also offer great deployment flexibility. They can take any form and be integrated into objects (walls, buildings, lampposts, etc.). They are intended to function as quasi-passive devices, and so are unlikely to increase exposure to electromagnetic waves. They can even be potentially used to reduce the electromagnetic pollution of existing installations. These characteristics suggest that RIS can be considered a sustainable, environmentally-friendly technological solution.

In May 2023, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) announced the publication of the first report by its industry specification group on Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS).