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Dayton Engineer

When milliseconds matter: Researcher to improve speed of wireless communication with $166K National Science Foundation grant

By Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications

In remote surgery or autonomous vehicles, milliseconds matter when a wireless system sends, receives and executes commands. University of Dayton researcher, Feng Ye, hopes to help improve the speed of 5G and beyond 5G wireless communication with a $166,520 National Science Foundation grant.

"If it's just streaming videos or making Zoom calls, anything under 200 milliseconds to transfer data is acceptable," said Ye, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. "But let's say in the future, 5G or beyond 5G is used for remote surgery, that little needle can't wait 200 milliseconds to do what it's instructed to do."

Or in the case of autonomous driving, that delay will be too long for a vehicle to avoid an obstacle. A car can travel about 12 feet in a 100 milliseconds, Ye added.

"If there is a running animal, an autonomous car won't have time to change course," he said. "It makes a huge difference."

According to Ye, current 4G LTE communication has a delay of about 100 milliseconds, with a best-case scenario of 25 milliseconds.

Through his research in UD's Advanced Communications Network and Security Lab, he hopes to help reduce the overall process to less than five milliseconds in future 5G or beyond 5G communications. Ye's group is focused on step one of the communications process: in what condition is the current channel for communication. They want to get that process from about 10 milliseconds to one millisecond or less to leave the other four milliseconds for other parts of the 5G and beyond 5G communication processes. 

"This part of the process is where the communication determines 'How good is this channel?' 'Is it busy?,'" Feng said. "It tells the signal if it's traveling a highway or a country dirt road, or if there's a traffic jam."

The key to improving speed, Ye said, is fine-tuning the artificial intelligence that carries out the transfer of information.

"We're trying to speed up the loading and unloading process of the information," Feng said. "Or think of it like this: In the case of a swimmer, we're trying to improve the technique of turning, not the technique of swimming."

A graduate student will assist in developing theories and running computer simulations. Ye hopes to add UD undergraduate students by applying for an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates grant. 

"The students' value to our research is significant," Ye said. "They will play a big part."

Click here to read the NSF's complete award abstract. For more information on the research, contact Ye at

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