Holographic MIMO Communications: Theoretical Foundations, Enabling Technologies, and Future Directions

Tierui Gong, Panagiotis Gavriilidis, Ran Ji, Chongwen Huang, George C. Alexandropoulos, Li Wei, Zhaoyang Zhang, Merouane Debbah, H. Vincent Poor, Chau Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Future wireless systems are envisioned to create an endogenously holography-capable, intelligent, and programmable radio propagation environment, that will offer unprecedented capabilities for high spectral and energy efficiency, low latency, and massive connectivity. A potential and promising technology for supporting the expected extreme requirements of the sixth-generation (6G) communication systems is the concept of the holographic multiple-input multiple-output (HMIMO), which will actualize holographic radios with reasonable power consumption and fabrication cost. The HMIMO is facilitated by ultra-thin, extremely large, and nearly continuous surfaces that incorporate reconfigurable and sub-wavelength-spaced antennas and/or metamaterials. Such surfaces comprising dense electromagnetic (EM) excited elements are capable of recording and manipulating impinging fields with utmost flexibility and precision, as well as with reduced cost and power consumption, thereby shaping arbitrary-intended EM waves with high energy efficiency. The powerful EM processing capability of HMIMO opens up the possibility of wireless communications of holographic imaging level, paving the way for signal processing techniques realized in the EM-domain, possibly in conjunction with their digital-domain counterparts. However, in spite of the significant potential, the studies on HMIMO communications are still at an initial stage, its fundamental limits remain to be unveiled, and a certain number of critical technical challenges need to be addressed. In this survey, we present a comprehensive overview of the latest advances in the HMIMO communications paradigm, with a special focus on their physical aspects, their theoretical foundations, as well as the enabling technologies for HMIMO systems. We also compare the HMIMO with existing multi-antenna technologies, especially the massive MIMO, present various promising synergies of HMIMO with current and future candidate technologies, and provide an extensive list of research challenges and open directions for future HMIMO-empowered wireless applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-257
Number of pages62
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Holographic multiple-input multiple-output (HMIMO)
  • beamforming/beam focusing
  • channel estimation
  • channel modeling
  • electromagnetic information theory
  • holography
  • near-/far-field communications
  • performance analysis
  • reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RIS)


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