6G Communications will become more viable by adopting zero energy devices ZED in its infrastructure.  In addition, many 6G business cases are based on it enabling client devices at the edge of its networks to be zero energy. Here ZED means more useful and sold in far larger numbers, from personal and professional devices to Internet of Things IOT nodes.

ZED are energy autonomous devices with particular attention on those that have much longer life and greener credentials, this usually implying battery-free. The industry chooses to include in the ZED definition those devices that are powered only by a whisper of electricity from a signal beam when in use. All are analysed in the new Zhar Research report, “6G Communications Zero Energy Devices ZED: Markets, Technology, Materials Opportunities 2024-2044”. Commercially-oriented, the 365-page report reveals your materials and device opportunities.

Primary author Dr Peter Harrop says, “With its higher frequencies and therefore shorter- range emissions, 6G will fail without empowering devices in the transmission path, mostly intelligent reflective surfaces IRS and reprogrammable intelligent surfaces RIS in difficult-to-access places calling for energy autonomy. On the other hand, 6G is promised to enable IOT to become a genuinely new, large market at last. That can only happen if the nodes are ZED because the envisaged numbers and locations are so challenging. In a later stage, 6G is intended to permit unpowered edge devices and maybe charge your phone as you use it. For any of these things, many new systems need to be adopted together with many new materials technologies. On the 20-year view, metamaterials and structural electronics will be particularly impactful in many ways but there is much more to this story.”

The report carefully explains all this including the implications of the large research pipeline right into 2024, distilling new roadmaps, forecasts, comparisons and appraisals. On-board multi-mode energy harvesting, ultra-low power electronics, structural supercapacitors and lithium-ion capacitors? It is all here, together with specification compromises and frugal new systems approaches such as ambient backscatter communications AmBC and how most of them can and will be combined. Your billion-dollar opportunity awaits.

Report structure
The 35-page Executive Summary and Conclusions is a quick read for those in a hurry, with follow-on pages giving 23 forecast lines as tables and graphs. See 20 key conclusions, the 20-year roadmap and many new infograms of the key trends, impediments and opportunities. 

The 53-page Introduction embraces 6G basics, promises and threats. See challenges ahead such as its cost, runaway electricity consumption and frequency problems. There is a SWOT appraisal of 6G Communications as currently understood and a 6G general roadmap 2024-2044 then it focuses on ZED needs and opportunities in 6G Phase 1 and 2, illustrating such things as zero-energy device networks with wireless-powered RIS, ZED Machine Type Communications MTC and other ZED empowered 6G opportunities. Latest research references, many from 2024 close the chapter.

The rest of the report is a deep dive into the 6G ZED enabling technologies that are your business opportunity. They start with two chapters where certain technologies are impactful at both system and device level then three chapters are mainly concerned with device technology.

Joined-up world of IRS, RIS and metamaterials
Chapter 3 (38 pages) explains how 6G IRS are ZED and 6G RIS must be made ZED. Called, “6G ZED infrastructure and client device enabling technology: metamaterials, IRS, RIS, structural electronics” it is mostly about how metamaterials are enormously important here. They are the basis of IRS and RIS. They can increase the power from on-board photovoltaics in two ways. They can act as  internal energy harvesting but there is more. What materials and construction are involved? All is explained with a profusion of latest research references and company achievements and intentions. Three SWOT appraisals concerning IRS, RIS and metamaterials end the chapter.

Enabling systems approaches
The 20 close packed pages of Chapter 4 are almost entirely involved in systems approaches making 6G ZED a reality for example by reducing or eliminating power requirements of client devices.  Called, “6G ZED enabling technology: Simultaneous wireless and information transfer SWIPT,  ambient backscatter communications technology AmBC, crowd-detectable zero energy devices CD-ZED”, it explains all this again with 2024 and 2023 references and intentions and the activity of named universities and companies.

Energy harvesting – the full choice
Now come detailed device technologies that must be brought to bear in combination because the challenges are formidable as greater functionality so often calls for more electricity, personal electronics and RIS, the most important devices in the propagation path, being notorious examples. Nothing less than many forms of energy harvesting combined into smart materials are needed together with other contributions covered in the other chapters. Most treatises pretend there are only a few harvesting options but here we need 117 pages because we address 13 of them in great detail. After all, 6G ZED may be buried in our bodies, operating underwater or otherwise challenged so the report considers even the new hydrovoltaics and the use of printed biofuel cells powering our smart skin patches all 6G connected, or such is the dream. Learn what mechanical and electromagnetic frequencies and what forms of heat are realistic to harvest, for example.  Other modes? What forms of energy harvesting are already being combined in single devices? Again, analysis and many new references bring it all alive.

Ultra-low power electronics
Chapter 6. (63 pages) “Ultra-low power electronics and electrics to make 6G ZED more feasible” takes 31 pages to sweep through such things as ultra-low power “Lithionic” and 2 nanometer chips, wireless sensor networks with simplified specifications using less power and other approaches with, in research, ultra-low power radio modules and smartphones resulting.

Storage without batteries
The report then ends with the best battery-free energy storage options for 6G, notably supercapacitors and lithium-ion capacitors but there is more and again the structural formats come to the fore. Indeed, there is a close look at the considerable research on making dumb material such as the case of your device into energy storage and even storage with energy harvesting still without increasing space or weight. It is called, “massless energy” and it is of considerable importance for both 6G ZED infrastructure and client devices. Self-healing versions anyone?

Only the report, “ 6G Communications Zero Energy Devices ZED: Markets, Technology, Materials Opportunities 2024-2044” can efficiently lead you to that $1 billion opportunity.