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Content archived on 2024-06-16

Reliable, tuneable and inexpensive antennas by collective fabrication processes

Final Report Summary - RETINA (Reliable, tuneable and inexpensive antennas by collective fabrication processes)

The ultimate aim of the RETINA project was to develop a reliable and low-cost solution for electrical beam steering in Ku band on-board mobile platforms. It was based on the global concept, called reflect array, and the industrial implementation was clearly a low-cost alternative compared with active phased array antennas. In addition, the quasi-planar integration of these antenna types would produce almost not any additional drag. For the key building block of the antenna, the phase shifter, two solutions were considered in parallel, namely high-power handling Radio frequency (RF) Microelectrochemical systems (MEMS) technologies and high-power handling ferroelectric materials

The RETINA demonstrator would consist of 20 to 30 unitary cells, compared with around 1000 cells envisioned for the future target product. Thorough attention was paid to the issue of reliability in terms of temperature, vibrations and signal strength. Therefore, extensive tests on the reliability of both technologies accompanied the different stages of the project and extra efforts were invested with respect to the proper modeling of the main reliability aspects by developing a suitable software tool.

A successful development of advanced phase shifting technologies such as RF-MEMS and ferroelectric capacitors was performed which led to the realisation of a partial reflect array antenna, demonstrating electrical beam steering in the operational SatCom bandwidth. The project built the foundation for the development of a full-scale Ku band SatCom antenna with the potential of advanced electrical beam-steering using low-cost fabrication processes.