Signal propagation techniques for wireless underground communication networks

Ian F. Akyildiz, Zhi Sun, Mehmet C. Vuran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


Wireless Underground Communication Networks (WUCNs) consist of wireless devices that operate below the ground surface. These devices are either (i) buried completely under dense soil, or (ii) placed within a bounded open underground space, such as underground mines and road/subway tunnels. The main difference between WUCNs and the terrestrial wireless communication networks is the communication medium. In this paper, signal propagation characteristics are described in these constrained areas. First, a channel model is described for electromagnetic (EM) waves in soil medium. This model characterizes not only the propagation of EM waves, but also other effects such as multipath, soil composition, water content, and burial depth. Second, the magnetic induction (MI) techniques are analyzed for communication through soil. Based on the channel model, the MI waveguide technique for communication is developed to address the high attenuation challenges of MI waves through soil. Furthermore, a channel model, i.e., the multimode model, is provided to characterize the wireless channel for WUCNs in underground mines and road/subway tunnels. The multimode model can characterize two cases for underground communication, i.e., the tunnel channel and the room-and-pillar channel. Finally, research challenges for the design communication protocols for WUCNs in both underground environments are discussed based on the analysis of the signal propagation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-183
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Channel model
  • Magnetic induction
  • Soil medium
  • Tunnel
  • Underground mine
  • Waveguide
  • Wireless networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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