Intelligent Reflecting Surface Aided Wireless Communications: A Tutorial

Qingqing Wu, Shuowen Zhang, Beixiong Zheng, Changsheng You, Rui Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

241 Citations (Scopus)


Intelligent reflecting surface (IRS) is an enabling technology to engineer the radio signal propagation in wireless networks. By smartly tuning the signal reflection via a large number of low-cost passive reflecting elements, IRS is capable of dynamically altering wireless channels to enhance the communication performance. It is thus expected that the new IRS-aided hybrid wireless network comprising both active and passive components will be highly promising to achieve a sustainable capacity growth cost-effectively in the future. Despite its great potential, IRS faces new challenges to be efficiently integrated into wireless networks, such as reflection optimization, channel estimation, and deployment from communication design perspectives. In this paper, we provide a tutorial overview of IRS-aided wireless communications to address the above issues, and elaborate its reflection and channel models, hardware architecture and practical constraints, as well as various appealing applications in wireless networks. Moreover, we highlight important directions worthy of further investigation in future work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9326394
Pages (from-to)3313-3351
Number of pages39
JournalIEEE Transactions on Communications
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Antennas
  • Fading channels
  • Intelligent reflecting surface (IRS)
  • IRS applications
  • IRS channel estimation
  • IRS channel model
  • IRS deployment
  • IRS hardware architecture and practical constraints
  • IRS reflection optimization
  • IRS-aided wireless communication
  • MIMO communication
  • Relays
  • Reliability
  • smart and reconfigurable environment
  • Wireless networks
  • Wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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