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Advanced Technologies for future European Satellite Applications

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TESLA (Advanced Technologies for future European Satellite Applications)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2023-06-30

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 tackled 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 provided 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 researched new & enabling technologies for satellite flexible payloads, big constellation systems & Internet of Space, satellite high-speed communications, remote sensing & large satellite platforms and participated in broad entrepreneurial & innovation training, extensive public engagement & outreach activities, enhancing the European space economy, business & providing wider economic & social impact.
8 ESRs have been awarded their PhDs with a further 6 due to complete in the next year. The TESLA Innovation Triangle Initiative enabled key results to be exploited and all ESRs actively engaged in disseminating their research via conferences, journal articles, workshops and via social media. WP1–Technologies for Flexible payloads, 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 have been researched. 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, 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)mm & submm wave filtering & tuning mechanisms by considering silicon micromachining techniques & c) novel mm-wave components based on semi-planar structures have been investigated .In WP4High-Power Technologies for Large Platforms, a)additive manufacturing techniques for the mm-wave high power payloads components & a Breadboard design of single mm-wave space components b)new compact solutions for reconfigurable 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 have been developed.
3 patents have been applied for & one has been sold to Airbus. 56 journal articles & conference papers have been published to June 23 with more in pipeline. The project has engaged with the public via a family moon base workshop, its website, linkedin, twitter, radio, other media outlets & open days at schools & universities. Progress beyond the state of the art includes 1.Developed designs of reconfigurable waveguide transitions & reconfigurable Linear-polarized/left-handed circular-polarized/right-handed circular-polarized waveguide antenna arrays to provide wideband performance & flexible functions in a beamforming system for satellite communication applications 2.An extremely compact miniaturized filter based on substrate integrated waveguide technology (SIW) has been designed, manufactured, tested & published at 2021 IEEE MTT-S International microwave filter workshop 3.Various tunable devices with minimal deterioration of high-Q frequency-selective performance have been researched, developed & characterized 4.Designed & fabricated a reconfigurable radar antenna frontend using a novel switching circuit 5.Utilisation of ceramic material as an efficient resonator in filters suitable for satellite technology results published in IEEE access 6.Designed several filters of different orders using waveguide & substrate integrated waveguide (SIW) technology, with wide stopband rejection performance for narrow & wideband applications results published in IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory & Techniques 7.Developed several filters using various additive manufacturing technologies with new filter topologies & geometries achieving highly efficient filtering responses, including transmission zeros, resulting in selective responses & low losses 8.Pushed the boundaries of current manufacturing techniques to achieve non-planar passive components for MW with improved characteristics (wider spurious rejection, miniaturization, easy assembly, flexible manufacturing) 9.Several prototypes of smooth-profiled low-pass filtering structures, operating in different frequency ranges, have been produced using metal additive fabrication techniques 10.Several components (such as combline filters & rectangular waveguide diplexers) showing wide tuning ranges (for centre frequency & bandwidth) have been successfully demonstrated using novel tuners based on dielectric materials 11. Ceramic materials based on aluminium-nitride composites have been investigated, in terms of properties (loss tangent, thermal conductivity) & sintering methods. 12.Developments for millimetre hardware for next generation of satellite communications have been proposed in 10 journal articles13.Developed high-performance silicon micromachined components for satellite applications in THz frequencies 14.Developed several concepts of metamaterial or metasurface filters for both reconfigurability & out-of-band rejection improvement of components 15.Developed topology optimization tools to produce miniaturized components, filled of dielectric material like specifically engineered ceramics, using additive manufacturing techniques for novel high power components. Overall this has developed European Space capability through developing payload flexibility, internet of space technology, high speed communication and remote sensing and high power technology & by training 15 ESRs keen to continue working in this area. The 4.5 year project established strong links between partners (academic & industry) & with other Space related projects providing for ongoing opportunities for the research work started in TESLA.