Intelligent Reflecting Surfaces with Spatial Modulation: An Electromagnetic Perspective

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Electromagnetic wave control using the concept of a reflecting surface is first studied as a near-field and a far-field problem.Using a secondary source present in a wireless communication environment, such as a backscatter tag, it is possible to leverage the incoming radiation from the source as a reference-wave to synthesize the desired wavefront across the reflecting surface, radiating afield of interest. In this geometry, the phase grating, which is synthesized using an array of sub-wavelength unit cells, is calculated byinteracting the incident reference-wave and the desired wavefront, similar to a hologram. When illuminated by the reference-wave,the reflected wavefront from the calculated phase grating is guaranteed to constructively add in the direction of the desired radiation(beam-steering in the far-field) and also focus at the intended depth (beam-focusing in the radiative near-field). Next, leveraging a dynamic modulation mechanism in the context of an intelligent reflective surface (IRS) illuminated by a backscatter tag, we demonstrate that one can selectively focus and defocus at an arbitrarily positioned receiver within the 3D field of view of thereflecting surface. This enables the control of the amplitude of the radiated electric field at the receiver location, paving the way for a spatial modulation mechanism by means of reconfiguring the reflecting surface in a backscattered wireless communication environment. In addition to the phase modification approach on a unit cell level to reconfigure the aperture radiated wavefronts,we finally present a time varying IRS concept making use of a time-delay based approach relying on a delay adjustment between the reflection coefficients of the IRS’ unit cell lattices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1256 - 1266
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2020


  • Metasurfaces
  • Reflectarrays
  • Intelligent systems


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