Nanotech antenna could be produced within three years at Cambridge
An antenna based on nanotechnology, which is suitable for use in mobile phones and capable of effortlessly jumping between multiple wireless frequencies and protocols, could be in production within three years thanks to a tri-continental collaboration headed out of the University of Cambridge.An antenna based on nanotechnology, which is suitable for use in mobile phones and capable of effortlessly jumping between multiple wireless frequencies and protocols, could be in production within three years thanks to a tri-continental collaboration headed out of the University of Cambridge.
The project, which will be undertaken at the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) in the University’s department of engineering (CUED), will explore a new class of materials with unique dielectric properties in the microwave range, suitable for applications in mobile phones and other wireless systems.
The successful development of these novel materials will enable new wireless antenna technologies that substantially reduce the footprint required for multiple antenna systems, while simultaneously reducing background noise and increasing the capacity of mobile wireless systems.
Named RANTED and backed by £200,000 of investment, the project intends to deliver proof-of-concept demonstrators after two years and the development of components ready for market applications in three.
It will be headed by Prof Bill Crossland, head of the CAPE steering committee.
Although it will only have three full time staff, it will work within a larger collaboration, which draws on CAPE’s carbon nanotubes expertise on the one hand and liquid crystals know-how on the other.
IP will belong to the University and will be licensed to industrial users.
The potential for a spin-out also exists – with numerous patents and 10 spin-outs from the electrical division of CUED in the past five years, it is a well-trodden path – although Prof Crossland indicated that the industrial partners would have a say in this.
RANTED’s backers are three of CAPE’s existing strategic partners and the project has been dubbed as the latest milestone in the CAPE alliance’s collaborative mission to invent and develop through multidisciplinary research, materials, processes, components and systems.
New York’s Advance Nanotech – parent company of Business Weekly East of England Awards Innovation winner, Owlstone Nanotech – will be joined by Alps Electric Company in Japan and Michigan’s Dow Corning Corporation.
Dr Peter Gammel, senior vice president, electronics at Advance Nanotech, said: “By 2009 mobile devices will be required to support a myriad of wireless frequencies and protocols, including 2, 2.5 and 3G telephony, Bluetooth (802.15), WiFi (802.11), ZigBee (802.15.4) and DVB-H (mobile TV) in order to be competitive.
“This poses a significant challenge to designers and developers of RF antennas and subsystems. The RANTED technology will demonstrate antennas which support all these applications in a compact footprint with improved performance.”
In addition to mobile phones and wireless devices, the novel materials developed by the RANTED project are expected to benefit a broad range of microwave applications, from medical imaging to antennas, filters, receivers and transmitters for microwave and terahertz systems; from radar to satellite and mobile phone applications.
Advance nanotech chief executive, Magnus Gittins, said: “Together Advance Nanotech, Alps, Dow Corning and the University of Cambridge are working to define the future and set the industry agenda for the convergence of photonic and electronic technology. The RANTED project represents a significant step in our progress towards these goals.”
Prof Crossland said: “Each of our partners brings a host of unparalleled expertise to the table: Alps Electric in optoelectronic components, Dow Corning in materials research, and Advance Nanotech in nanotechnology.
“The project is an excellent example of collaboration at work between industry leaders at the CAPE centre.”
CAPE forms an integrated Research Facility for Electrical Engineering and has 20 academics, 70 post-doctoral researchers and 170 research students.
It is funded by Advance Nanotech, Alps, Dow Corning and Marconi Communications and is designed to encourage research activities to proceed to development and exploitation in close collaboration with industry.