A major new commercially-oriented report has the answer. It is called, "6G Communications: Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface RIS and Reflect-array Materials and Hardware Markets, Technology 2025-2045". Primarily, it serves the needs of investors, materials and device suppliers, product and system integrators but there is also much to interest academics, regulators and others in the emerging value chain. 

New virtuosity
6G Communications arrives 2030. Its essential Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces will increase range and penetration, enhancing the propagation path. First, they will  handle sub-terahertz then add terahertz, near infrared and optical frequencies.  They will even enhance the base stations and appear in the stratosphere on loitering solar drones. There is rapid progress in making RIS 360-degrees all-round capable, invisible, long lasting, self-adaptive, self-powered and even multifunctional smart materials adding sensing, positioning, operating unpowered client devices and other business cases. Indeed, the flood of new research in 2024 makes earlier analysis misleading.

Two reports in one
The report is really two reports in one. Those seeking just the materials and device aspects can get them from about 200 pages, mainly of new infograms, forecasts, roadmaps, comparison tables  and PhD level commentary. Those seeking all aspects including signal processing and system design will value the full text.

The report has 6 SWOT appraisals, 9 chapters, 21 forecast lines to 2045, 25 key conclusions, 31 new infograms, over 92 companies mentioned and hundreds of latest research papers analysed, particularly from 2024 and 2023, in 457 pages.

Questions answered include:

  • Cost analysis?
  • Gaps in the market?
  • Merits and issues of RIS alternatives?
  • Becoming multipurpose in what ways?
  • Major RIS milestones, when, where to 2045?
  • Countries, companies, researchers to watch?
  • 6G RIS vs 6G reflect-arrays – technologies, forecasts?
  • 6G THz, NearIR and visible frequencies, when and why?
  • Potential partners and acquisitions and their RIS progress?
  • 6G RIS panels, area, cost, & market value by year to 2045?
  • Which formulations, configurations, manufacturing win, why?
  • What metamaterials, metasurfaces, tuning materials and devices?
  • 20-year roadmaps of decision making, technical capability and adoption?

The 36-page Executive Summary and Conclusions takes 38 pages for those wanting the whole picture at speed including roadmaps 2025-2045. 11 pages then present those 21 forecast lines as tables and graphs with commentary. Chapter 2 (45 pages) then introduces the subject addressing  definitions, origin, importance, key issues, required capabilities and some important regional initiatives but what is the ultimate objective? That is covered in Chapter 3 (39 pages) “Ultimate 6G RIS hardware objectives: invisible, independent, ubiquitous, multifunctional, everlasting”. Here you will learn of the now-considerable body of work on such things as  Transparent Amplifying Intelligent Surface TAIS providing Simultaneous Wireless and Information Transfer SWIPT with advanced backscatter and Simultaneous Terahertz Imaging with Information and Power Transfer STIIPT. See eight options that can be combined for energy independent long-life, 13 energy harvesting options potentially making RIS into Zero Energy Devices. Ambient backscatter communications AmBC and crowd detectable CD-ZED? RIS ensuring 6G system security: combined semi-passive and active RIS? Winning materials? It is here with analysis of many latest research papers and our own ideas.

Transparent versions attract
Transparent RIS is now a strong trend so Chapter 4 (38 pages) goes deeper with “Transparent passive reflect-arrays and all-round STAR RIS”. In addition, there is much new work on how RIS technology will help to address the many problems of the large, power-hungry 6G base stations planned and Chapter 5, “Base station, UAV and large area MIMO RIS” covers these linked topics in  22 pages including the extremely large-scale antenna array (ELAA).

Heart of the subject
Chapter 6 concerns the heart of the subject - materials, devices and new principles for, “6G RIS hardware and system design enhancing the propagation path at sub-THz, THz”. In 130 pages it makes sense of the tsunami of new research and initiatives, presenting many summaries, comparisons and predictions including winning materials. See indoor vs outdoor RIS and RIS  customised to specific industries. However, the largest part is RIS tuning hardware options compared, making sense of many new research advances and initiatives, identifying winners and losers. Whereas some early 6G RIS will use 5G RIS tuning materials and devices, higher THz frequencies need disruptive new approaches including liquid crystal, graphene, vanadium dioxide and chalcogenide tuning particularly full integration into the metasurfaces. Goodbye to flip chipping discretes.

6G becomes largely optical
To succeed commercially, most 6G must offer widespread superlative performance so such things as defaulting to satcoms and WiFi at mere GHz  risks the whole enterprise. Enter 6G near-infrared and visible light communication and the attendant need for RIS at these frequencies, all addressed in Chapter 7 “Optical carriers: 6G ORIS hardware and system design enhancing the propagation path at near infrared and visible frequencies”. Its 42 pages lead you to your opportunities with these materials and devices. Learn the place of LiFi, Optical Wireless Communication and more.

Enabling metamaterials, manufacturing and small companies
For those needing the basics of required added value materials, the 28 pages of Chapter 8 cover, “Key enabling hardware: metamaterials, metasurfaces”. Chapter 9 adds, “6G RIS and reflect-array manufacture, testing, cost breakdown, small companies involved”. What resolution, feature size, printing technology? Cost breakdown for hardware through installation for indoor and outdoor RIS systems? 12 small to medium sized companies, with something to offer, are assessed – your potential partners or acquisitions. The newest activities of the giant telcos and others and hundreds of research institutions  have already been covered throughout the text.

Essential guide
As the pace hots up, your essential guide is, "6G Communications: Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface RIS and Reflect-array Materials and Hardware Markets, Technology 2025-2045".