While carriers are still in the process of rolling out 5G communication in certain areas an even faster network technology, known as 6G (sixth generation), is taking shape. It really is humanity’s way — progress, progress, progress.

Progress is never without its challenges, and there are still hurdles between 5G and 6G. Historically, one of the materials used in its production — epsilon iron oxide — has been difficult to produce in large quantities, making industrial application a challenge. 

But, as one might have predicted, scientists have come up with a potential answer, developing and publishing a method for producing the rare form of iron oxide (III) at an accelerated rate, and demonstrating its use for 6G wireless communication.

Epsilon Iron Oxide for 6G

Iron oxide (III), one of the most common oxides, can be found as alpha iron oxide (a-Fe203) and gamma modification (y-Fe203), as well as epsilon-, beta-, zeta-, and glassy. The most coveted form, epsilon iron oxide (ε-Fe2O3), has super cool magnetic properties and meets the criteria for wireless communication. 

Epsilon iron oxide can do the following: 

  • Resist external magnetic fields (comparable to parameters of magnets based on expensive rare earth magnets)
  • Absorb electromagnetic radiation in the sub-terahertz frequency range through natural ferromagnetic resonance. 

It can be used in 6G reception devices, but it also works for the production of converting units or absorber circuits at sub-terahertz frequency ranges. For instance, by using composite epsilon iron oxide nanopowders, it would be possible to make paint that absorbs electromagnetic waves, shielding signals from interception and rooms from random outside signals.

Problem vs. Solution

As mentioned above, there are hurdles. First, epsilon iron oxide is rare and produced in small quantities due to a complex synthesis process that can take up to a month. Fortunately, the new method developed by researchers is inexpensive, has an accelerated synthesis (30x faster), and would require iron and silicon, which happen to be two of the most abundant elements on Earth. 

The Future of 6G

Although progress is… well, in progress, the race to 6G technology is not expected to end until the 2030s. But when the time comes, what can we expect? First, the market will likely facilitate improvements in imaging, device tracking, data storage, processing, and sharing. 6G will also have big implications for:

  • Threat detection
  • Health monitoring 
  • Facial recognition
  • Law enforcement
  • Air quality measurements
  • Gas and toxicity sensing

More Apex Blogs on Space

Magnets are everywhere — past, present, and certainly future! They’re part of technological advancements being made all over the world, and at Apex, we love to nerd out over the advancements from researchers and scientists. If you want to learn more about magnetic news, DIYs, and history, read more on our blog.

And, while we may not be in the market of magnetic nanopowder, we do offer magnets (discs, blocks, cubes, and more!) in a wide array of sizes. Check out our metric selection here!