"The project is called Optical and Wireless Sensors Networks for 6G scenarios (OWIN6G) and is a Ph.D. project. There are 10 partners, seven teams from universities and three from industry, but those from the industry have to be linked to another university at the same time. These teams will receive a portion of the funding, each of them for one new Ph.D. student, and this will create a network of teams collaborating on individual work packages," described Stanislav Zvánovec, who is also the principal investigator and coordinator of the project with his Wireless and Fiber Optics group.
The scientist described that the grant will support research on sensor networks for the sixth generation and will focus on wireless optics as well as millimeter-wave radio transmission. "For this, we will simultaneously develop either the sensors themselves, solar cells for energy harvesting and optical detection, and hybrid RF-optical wireless technologies or machine learning applications to improve signal reception," Prof Zvanovec said. These sensors, he said, will have future applications in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), smart home devices, home care, and smart cities, and will integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE) as part of 6G technologies. "In addition to focusing on new sensors, we will also look at security aspects in sensor networks," the expert added.
Regarding the organization of the project, Zvánovec said that each student involved will spend up to 12 months of his or her doctoral studies on research internships at universities or industrial partners in other countries. "This is to gain the best possible knowledge shared by experts across the whole project," the scientist noted. "It's a great opportunity also for the student(s) finishing here at FEE CTU. Although they will not be able to join our team directly, due to the requirement of a previous master's degree in another country, they have nine other places open at foreign universities in Spain, France, Germany, Great Britain, Portugal, or Greece," emphasized Zvánovec.
The selection of collaborating Ph.D. students will be made through a recruitment process on the European portal Euraxess. According to the scientist, the pre-recruitment process has already started. Prof. Zvánovec himself will lead four new Ph.D. students as a supervisor or specialist in the project.
Stanislav Zvánovec also pointed out that even for his experienced research team the topic of the project is a great challenge. "It is new for me in that we are getting outside our comfort zone of optical communication or millimeter links alone. For example, my Ph.D. topic combines all of the above with an overlap into the creation of a virtual space that tries to combine all the knowledge from both communication and network technologies on the principle of digital twins and then prevent a whole range of critical situations," explained Prof. Zvánovec. "In most standard projects, we try to develop technologies that we have very well mapped, for example, for subsequent use in industry. However, the OWIN6G project is at the edge of current knowledge of wireless optical links and sensors," the scientist said.
According to the scientist, the team from FEE CTU has collaborated with most of the top experts involved in the project in the past - on joint measurements, publications, and in international projects. These include the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, Ecole Centrale Marseille, and Northumbria University in Newcastle. "In addition to joint scientific work, I am also a specialist tutor for their students," said prof. Zvánovec.
"For example, we have joint publications in impacted journals with two-thirds of our partners, and our students go on scientific internships in their teams," said prof. Zvánovec. "And what is more interesting, in recent years, the vast majority of the collaborating students come to us to carry out experiments, because we have managed to build state-of-the-art laboratory facilities combining optical and microwave technology - such is not available to most European teams," the scientist concluded.