Skip to main content

Advanced Technologies for future European Satellite Applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TESLA (Advanced Technologies for future European Satellite Applications)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-12-31

To meet global challenges, for economic & job growth, maintenance of public services & efficient communications & security, Europe must continue to develop space capabilities. The TESLA ETN tackles the key technology challenges for future satellite applications by combining leading academic research groups & industrial organizations in Europe with complementary expertise & resources in RF (Radio Frequency) technology, covering microwave/millimetre (1 to 300 GHz) & sub-millimetre (above 300 GHz) wave frequencies, in multiple domains, including electromagnetic design & theoretical analysis/modelling, advanced materials & manufacturing technologies, & experimental characterization (e.g. high-power effects and space qualifications). The project provides a training & research programme to develop Advanced Technologies for future European Satellite Applications with 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) completing PhDs at 8 academic institutions: Heriot Watt University (coordinator), Universidad Publica de Navarra, Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel, Kungliga Tekniska HoegSkolan, Technische Universitaet Graz, Universita Degli Studi Di Perugia & Universite de Limoges. The ESRs alongside academic & industrial staff research new & enabling technologies for satellite flexible payloads, big constellation systems & Internet of Space, satellite high-speed communications, remote sensing & large satellite platforms and participate in broad entrepreneurial & innovation training, extensive public engagement & outreach activities, enhancing the European space economy, business & providing wider economic & social impact.
In WP1 – Technologies for Flexible payloads, design has started on: a)advanced multilayer beamforming networks, b)passive components & subsystems in novel hybrid planar technologies c)novel single & multi-mode tunable filters based on new resonator topologies & d)micromachined low-power, low-weight, low form-factor, switching networks for waveguide. In WP2 - Technologies for big constellation systems & Internet of Space, progress has been made a)pushing boundaries of current manufacturing techniques to achieve non-planar passive components for MW with improved characteristics b)proposing new topologies allowing for very efficient filtering responses in both planar & non-planar structures & developing further miniaturized diplexers & multiplexers, c)investigating materials & processes for additive manufacturing of microwave & terahertz components suitable for space applications & d)studying additive manufacturing techniques to design payloads components . In WP3 - Enabling technologies for high-speed communications & remote sensing, work has begun on a)novel approaches combining the lossy techniques & super Q resonators to address limited realizable quality factor at the upper mm wave frequencies to develop & demonstrate W-band components for space application b)Investigating mm & submm wave filtering & tuning mechanisms by considering silicon micromachining techniques & c)Designing novel mm-wave components based on semi-planar structures .In WP4 -High-Power Technologies for Large Platforms, work has started in developing a)additive manufacturing techniques for the mm-wave high power payloads components & a Breadboard design of single mm-wave space components has been completed b)new compact solutions for waveguide filters using empty cavities c)developing ceramic materials dedicated to high-power handling & d)topology optimization tools for high-power RF components accounting for thermal & mechanical aspects. In period 1, a comprehensive training programme has started for ESRs supported by the Innovation Triangle Initiative, ongoing career development/ monitoring reviews & industrial secondments. ESRs have shared their research with the public through posters/presentations & papers/conferences.
A new dual-band substrate integrated coaxial line power divider for 4-input & 16-output Beamforming Multi-Layer Feeding Network was reported at APMC2020. This reduces fabrication cost, simplifies installation & replaces the waveguide & PA/LNA parts. Novel designs of compact wide bandpass filters have been attained to enhance selectivity & tunability (of great interest for IF/RF up- & down-converters for flexible payloads in space applications). A proposed new tuning method achieves more flexible reconfigurations with low added losses. The designed novel MEMS waveguide switch & a switching network works at 230-260 GHz & uses electrostatic actuation without DC consumption. An antenna beam former has been implemented by using these switches. The whole system on a single chip is available in silicon micromachining with MEMS integrated in the waveguide channel. The study of the test prints for pushing the boundaries of Additive Manufacturing (AM) has shown various possible lattices & gradients, leading to a novel design of 3D printed bandpass filter with corrugations showing an improved RF performance. A new & generic technique has been developed for designing a variety of filters with wide spurious free band, first applied to a TM filter manufactured by a SLA 3D printer- prototype shows very promising results with a paper submitted to the International Microwave Symposium-IMS2021. Another 3D printed new filter was demonstrated & presented at IMS2020 with an extension of this work published IEEE Transaction on Microwave Theory & Technique. Novel quasi-spherical cavity filter realizing transmission zeros with inline configuration has also been developed & results submitted to IMS2021. A novel filter with varying width & height geometry has been designed for Q-band applications. Fabrication yield is significantly increased at such a high frequency band by adopting AM to design payloads components to be used in large constellation system of small satellites to enhance the capacity and fulfil future demands such as Internet of Space. Several unique filters are being developed for W-Band (75 GHz – 110 GHz) operation. These novel designs enable figures of merit important in satellite operation eg high-Q factor, multiple-bands & spurious mode rejection. Combined paper & patent have resulted from the secondments with industrial partners. The SOI micromachining technology & process have developed waveguide components with high-quality factor or low loss at mm & submm-wave frequencies with a conceptual design of high Q-factor resonator employed in a designed low-loss filter with a very narrow bandwidth <1%. A novel meta-substrate structure has miniaturized & enhanced performance of a prototype filter presented at EUMW2020. A novel lowpass filter in waveguide technology with smooth profiles was designed to improve RF performance & facilitate use of AM as a fabrication technology. The filter can handle up to 200 kW (very promising for high-power applications) without being affected by multipactor. New topologies for realizing a reconfigurable filter with low-loss tuning mechanism for high-power have been obtained and can keep a constant passband bandwidth while tuning for satellite applications. Additives materials & processing parameters for Spark Plasma Sintering were selected & samples manufactured & tested advancing the development of a new optimized ceramic to improve the ratio between RF performance, power handling & heat dissipation for use in high-power components for space applications.