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CCI researcher gets NSF grants for two 6G projects

Sept. 8, 2023

6G abstract illustration

Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) researcher Jacek Kibilda has received two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants: one to fund research into local 6G connectivity, and the second to help secure 6G millimeter-wave communication.

Kibilda, a research associate professor, will serve as principal investigator (PI) on the three-year local 6G connectivity project, funded at $599,943.

Luiz DaSilva, executive director of CCI, will be the co-PI. CCI researchers will also collaborate with the 6G Flagship team at the University of Oulu in Finland — Matti Latva-aho, Nurul H. Mahmood, and Diana Moya Osorio

Kibilda will also be a co-PI on the three-year secure 6G millimeter-wave communications project, with his part of the grant totaling $122,055. Kai Zeng of George Mason University will lead the project. Georgios Trichopoulos of Arizona State University will be a co-PI.

Project One: Local 6G Connectivity: Controlled, Resilient, and Secure

Today, local 5G, also called private networking, has huge economic potential. Some studies estimate its valuation will hit $36 billion in 2030, up from $1.1 billion in 2022. 

The next step, local 6G, is expected to be highly localized, with wireless connectivity enabling new applications in such wide-ranging fields as health care, manufacturing, and retail. 

These applications will require reliable, resilient, and secure connectivity, which can be accomplished through reconfigurable intelligent surface technology. This technology needs accurate information about the wireless environment to operate effectively. 

“Our research will focus on new neural-network based channel representation methods to advance reconfigurable intelligent surface technology and enable local 6G connectivity,” said Kibilda.

Project Two: Securing Next G Millimeter-Wave Communication in Programmable RF Environments with Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface (SECURIS)

Reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs) are designed to dynamically adjust the radio frequency environment to improve signal quality and coverage, making them a critical component of 6G millimeter-wave (mmWave) wireless communication. 

However, attackers can also exploit this technology to eavesdrop, degrade wireless links, or poison channel estimation, hindering communication systems’ availability, integrity, and security. Conventional data encryption or authentication mechanisms become ineffective against these attacks, as attackers directly alter the RF propagation’s physical environment. 

This project will focus on creating and experimentally validating security mechanisms for RIS-assisted mmWave communication. 

“We’re working on developing and experimentally validating authentication methods for Next G signals reflected off of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces  to help inform 6G standardization efforts,” Kibilda said. 

This project is a spinoff of an earlier CCI funded project, DoS Attack-Resilient Initial Access for mmWave/THz based NextG Communications.

For more information, contact Michele McDonald, CCI Communications and Marketing Director.