Skip to Main Content
Cognitive radio is a promising technology that enables an unlicensed user (also known as a cognitive user) to identify the white space of a licensed spectrum band (called a spectrum hole) and utilize the detected spectrum hole for its data transmissions. To design a reliable and efficient cognitive radio system, there are two fundamental issues: to devise an accurate and robust spectrum sensing algorithm to detect spectrum holes as accurately as possible; and to design a secondary user transmission mechanism for the cognitive user to utilize the detected spectrum holes as efficiently as possible. This article investigates and shows that cooperative relay technology can significantly benefit the abovementioned two issues, spectrum sensing and secondary transmissions. We summarize existing research about the application of cooperative relays for spectrum sensing (referred to as the cooperative sensing) and address the related potential challenges. We discuss the use of cooperative relays for the secondary transmissions with a primary user's quality-of-service (QoS) constraint, for which a diversity-multiplexing trade-off is developed. In addition, this article shows a trade-off design of cognitive transmissions with cooperative relays by jointly considering the spectrum sensing and secondary transmissions in cognitive radio networks.