© Molex Electronics Production | July 01, 2011
Molex Antenna BU joins forces with Aalborg University
Aalborg University and antenna experts from Molex are conducting measurements in dense environments to ensure realistic results.
“We are trying to see how much more we can get out of the next-generation mobile phones when we have several antennas in them. The location has a great influence on the performance and the most difficult scenario is indoors in the city with tall buildings around. So we tested those specific environments,” says Professor Gert Frølund Pedersen from Aalborg University’s Department of Electronic Systems. As a collaboration between Aalborg University and the Molex antenna research department located in Nørresundby, Denmark, the ongoing measurement campaign previously focused on outdoor reception on the streets of Aalborg. Testing in the antenna radio anechoic lab is suitable for some types of applications, but the 4G technology has to function in a different and tough reality. The measurements conducted in the city are an opportunity to test prototypes and measurement equipment in real-life environments. “If you just take measurements in a lab you get misleading results. We know these devices have to be used in the real world, so we need to include all factors that affect this type of radio signal. With the next generation 4G and LTE systems, the influence of the radio propagation environment has an enormous impact on the performance you experience as a user of the product,” explains Morten Christensen, RF Research Manager, Molex. The measurements being taken are some of the first in the world without traditional cables connected to the prototype phones. The challenge in using a copper coaxial cable is that it acts as an extra-long antenna. This can yield unrealistically good reception and thus impair measurement quality. Aalborg University and Molex have developed a solution using fibre optics instead, thereby eliminating an important source of error. Results of the research are part of the four-year CAMMP project (Converged Advanced Mobile Media Platforms) with support from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation. The program has a total budget of DKK 42.5 million and is focused on the convergence of the Internet, digital television, radio and mobile communications. “We have produced several terabytes of data that have to be analysed, but we expect to have some conclusions during the next three months,” adds Morten Christensen. The measurements generate an enormous amount of data that must be handled before the researchers and developers can judge the quality of the different types of antenna designs in the tested prototypes. Then it is up to the IT and mobile industry to determine how quickly the results will benefit consumers. There may be devices on the market utilising the Aalborg test results within a year. “These are antennas that are expected to be in new devices that are already in the design phase. We are testing which of these are the best. The cycle is somewhat shorter now that we are beginning to see the standard for the new 4G system, so it may be only six months,” estimates Gert Frølund Pedersen.