TUNE IN: Research Update
For several years now, EM Solutions has continued to refine the technology behind its versatile on-the-move satellite terminals for land and sea, with its multi-band parabolic antennas providing access to multiple satellite bands and its unique monopulse tracking technology ensuring high connectivity even in rough motion.
The continuing drawback of such parabolic antennas is their large swept volume and their height. Although this is required to provide broad bandwidth and constant gain irrespective of look angle to the satellite, there are some applications that can compromise gain and link budget in order to achieve a lower profile. Over the past five years, there have been several commercial attempts to adopt low profile phased-array antennas, some incorporating meta materials, to satellite communications. The delivery of most such attempts has not necessarily lived up to the hype.
Since 2015, EM Solutions has undertaken research with the University of Queensland to develop a low cost, completely flat, steerable antenna that can be coupled with its existing and highly successful tracking technology. Preferring to under-promise and over-deliver, EM Solutions has been quietly developing this technology, finally completing a series of successful experiments on its first prototype beam-steerable flat panel antenna (FPA) in early 2018.
In collaboration with UniQuest (the commercialisation arm of the University of Queensland), EM Solutions has filed patents to protect its novel intellectual property. In its invention, two-dimensional spatial interferometry theory has been applied as a groundbreaking methodology to build a reconfigurable antenna structure in a low-cost manner that avoids the high costs of multiple active devices required in a phased-array or meta-material structure, and that also incorporate structures suitable for monopulse beam tracking. Coinventors Dr. Yifan Wang and Dr. John Ness designed and simulated the antenna as a blade model in space to deal with electromagnetic power in an optical manner, whereby the blade structure stores and releases the energy along its own body in a controllable manner, thus radiating energy in a desired direction. Coupled with a novel antenna feeding network, this antenna operates efficiently and elegantly, providing a simple means for steering the beam in the hemisphere above the completely flat antenna surface.
Recently, a new project team has been established in the company to integrate the antenna into EM Solutions’ existing terminal system architecture, with the first demonstrator expected to be ready in early 2019.