Wireless Communications Through Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces

Ertugrul Basar, Marco Di Renzo, Julien De Rosny, Merouane Debbah, Mohamed-Slim Alouini, Rui Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1463 Scopus citations


The future of mobile communications looks exciting with the potential new use cases and challenging requirements of future 6th generation (6G) and beyond wireless networks. Since the beginning of the modern era of wireless communications, the propagation medium has been perceived as a randomly behaving entity between the transmitter and the receiver, which degrades the quality of the received signal due to the uncontrollable interactions of the transmitted radio waves with the surrounding objects. The recent advent of reconflgurable intelligent surfaces in wireless communications enables, on the other hand, network operators to control the scattering, reflection, and refraction characteristics of the radiowaves, by overcoming the negative effects of natural wireless propagation. Recent results have revealed that reconflgurable intelligent surfaces can effectively control the wavefront, e.g., the phase, amplitude, frequency, and even polarization, of the impinging signals without the need of complex decoding, encoding, and radio frequency processing operations. Motivated by the potential of this emerging technology, the present article is aimed to provide the readers with a detailed overview and historical perspective on state-of-the-art solutions, and to elaborate on the fundamental differences with other technologies, the most important open research issues to tackle, and the reasons why the use of reconflgurable intelligent surfaces necessitates to rethink the communication-theoretic models currently employed in wireless networks. This article also explores theoretical performance limits of reconflgurable intelligent surface-assisted communication systems using mathematical techniques and elaborates on the potential use cases of intelligent surfaces in 6G and beyond wireless networks.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116753-116773
Number of pages21
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-03-05
Acknowledgements: The work of E. Basar was supported in part by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) under Grant
117E869, in part by the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TUBA) GEBIP Programme, and in part by the Science Academy BAGEP Programme. This article has been presented in part at the 2019 European Conference on Networks and Communications (EuCNC),
Valencia, Spain, June 2019.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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