Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis


Best Senior Thesis in Physical Sciences

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Reader 1

James Higdon

Reader 2

Tony Lee

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© 2020 Matthew A Johnson


5G, ultra-high frequency wireless networks face numerous hurdles due to significant signal attenuation in materials and large path loss. Empirical research on signal attenuation has been limited to low frequencies or very select high frequencies. This paper utilizes Finite Element Analysis in COMSOL Multiphysics to analyze signal attenuation in materials over a range of the frequency spectrum, from 100Mhz to 40Ghz, which is inclusive of 5G wireless frequencies. The focus of this paper is on glass and dry wood, as well as wet wood (representative of trees), as these materials are some of the most likely to stand in the way between users and cellular nodes. Utilizing various finite element mesh sizes, the analysis found that moderate signal attenuation starts to occur at frequencies above 10GHz, with more severe attenuation starting to occur in the 20-30GHz range. Glass and wet wood effectively block all signals above 30GHz, and while dry wood doesn’t lead to attenuation as severe as glass or wet wood, it is still large enough to make signal reception behind such a material impractical.