RF and microwave devices

Design and development of novel device architectures (e.g. custom antennae, transmitters, amplifiers, switches, filters, transceivers and linearisers) throughout the radio frequency, microwave/millimetre wave and terahertz domain.

We aim to grow the size of this research area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio, to enable an increased level of ambitious research that can have a truly disruptive impact and to allow this research to find applications across a wide range of areas.

By the end of the current Delivery Plan period, we aim to have:

  • A portfolio in this area that includes a significant proportion of fundamental research exploring new concepts and technologies. There is expected to be significant merit in funding more fundamental research and we encourage researchers to be more ambitious and far-sighted in their research programmes
  • Increased application of advanced materials research to developments in Radio Frequency (RF) and Microwave Devices, with an increased level of cross-disciplinary research between the fields. We expect this to lead to more interaction, networking and mutual understanding between the disciplines
  • More collaboration with researchers working in application domains where RF and Microwave Devices can have an impact. Many societal and technological challenges have a communications dimension, while a number of other technologies use RF, millimetre wave and terahertz transmission. We would like to see collaboration with researchers working in these domains and with users to tackle these problems
  • A greater number of postgraduate students and early-career researchers, as part of a rebalancing of support across the career stages in this research area

Researchers working in RF and Microwave Devices are encouraged to consider EPSRC's Cross-disciplinarity and Co-creation cross-ICT priority, and what this means for the way they engage with researchers in other areas and the opportunities this presents.


A small number of high-quality groups tend to dominate this research area and, while there are several internationally leading groups in the UK, a comparatively low number of early-career researchers and postgraduate students are working in the field (Evidence source 1,2).

Research in this area requires significant investment in equipment and infrastructure and so tends to be localised at a small number of research organisations (Evidence source 1).

Despite efforts to increase the size of this research area during the previous Delivery Plan period, it has remained small and of insufficient capacity to enable it to have the impact it should (Evidence source 1,2,3,4). As noted above, there are many societal and technological challenges beyond telecommunications that make use of RF, millimetre wave and terahertz transmission (e.g. radar for civil and military use, novel healthcare technologies, communications in robotics and autonomous systems, non-destructive testing, new spectroscopic techniques and low-powered communications between sensors that will enable sensor networks and the Internet of Things) (Evidence source 3,4,5,6). These developments are likely to be challenge-driven and the research that will go the furthest towards reaching such societal outcomes is, by its nature, collaborative and multidisciplinary and will involve strong user input (Evidence source 1,2).

New developments in other areas (e.g. advanced materials) offer the prospect of exciting new device concepts and technologies that could have significant impact. However, the current size of this research area limits the realisation of this (Evidence source 1,2).

This research area will contribute to all EPSRC Outcomes and particularly to the following Ambitions:

P4: Drive business innovation through digital transformation

This research area is expected to contribute to the development of wireless sensor networks (including the Internet of Things) that will benefit a wide variety of industries.

C2: Achieve transformational development and use of the Internet of Things

This area is expected to be key to enabling development of the Internet of Things, allowing information to be shared wirelessly among distributed sensors.

R3: Develop better solutions to acute threats: cyber, defence, financial and health

This area is expected to contribute to development of defence solutions such as new radar and explosive detection systems.

H3: Optimise diagnosis and treatment

This area is expected to contribute to development of new solutions for imaging and diagnosis and for treatment of tumours and other health challenges.

  1. Community and user engagement (individual input, group feedback, team visits/events and evidence-gathering and analysis).
  2. Input from the ICT Strategic Advisory Team, the CommNet2 Advisory Board and Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 panellists.
  3. Teranet EPSRC network, Roadmap for Terahertz Science and Technology, (2016) - to be published.
  4. EPSRC, New Materials for RF and Microwave Technologies Workshop (PDF), (2014).
  5. European Telecommunications Standards Institute, Maturity and Field Proven Experience of Millimetre Wave Transmission (PDF), (2015).
  6. Government Chief Scientific Adviser, The Internet of Things: Making the Most of the Second Digital Revolution (PDF), (2014).

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.


We aim to grow this area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC Support by Research Area in RF & microwave devices (GoW)
Search EPSRC's research and training grants.