Ku- Band Microwave Receiver Phased Array Antenna PCB

ProjectPhased Array Antenna

Phased Array Antenna

An important factor in attracting future passengers to aircraft, high speed trains and other automotive passenger carrier services will be the provision of reliable, wireless broadband Internet (communication and entertainment) services throughout the journey. The best way to provide such services is via a single satellite transceiver shared by all of the passengers, rather than each passenger establishing a 3G telephony connection and then relying on the high speed hand-over between a succession of mobile phone base stations.

Indeed, for aircraft, the use of mobile phones in not allowed and any mobile system will only work when flying over land. Phasor Solutions Ltd (PSL), are currently working to provide wireless Broadband Internet and Entertainment service solutions to leading European railway companies for train passengers. A number of broadband internet systems for ground-based and air transportation are currently being developed and brought to the global market.

These two-way satellite communication systems require high gain antennae to operate. Currently most of these systems are based on relatively flat parabolic reflector antennae. However, there are a number of critical limitations to the use of parabolic reflectors that prevent their widespread usage across the EU in terms of: mechanical beam alignment and tracking, reliability, weight, robustness and shape (in terms of aerodynamic profile and clearance).

Phased array antennae are being proposed as viable alternatives. Phased array antennae have significant benefits in comparison to mechanically driven parabolic dish antennas, including; higher reliability (no moving parts), flat low profile (minimal aerodynamic and space constraints), and robustness (far less susceptible to bird strikes). Phased array antennae are thus able to overcome the limitations of the parabolic reflector systems. However, they have only found very limited applications for mobile communications due to their excessive cost. Using current technology, the cost of the phased array antenna (typically based on Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) MMICs) system can easily be in excess of €1 million, which is prohibitively expensive.

The project will focus on developing non-planar phased array antennae by implementing novel high frequency process technology on Silicon-Germanium (SiGe), to replace the use of expensive Gallium-Arsenide (GaA) MMICs. Initial research work has shown that these systems have the potential to achieve a similar performance to existing phased arrays but at a fraction of the cost (€20k - €100k per system). If this could be achieved, then this would allow us to offer cheap and reliable broadband systems to aircraft, train and other mobile transport operators.

For more information see:

Project Summary

Objective: To develop a conformal antenna array to be used in an electronically steered antenna system for mobile broadband satellite communications.
Project leader: Phasor Solutions, Ltd. (United Kingdom)
Project Duration: 2010-2012
Project Sponsors: Vinnova (Sweden)
Acreo contact: Michael Salter (michael.salter(at)acreo.se)