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PhD student Jane Yun (l) gives visitors a lesson in antenna technology in SFU’s mobile communications lab.

Antenna technology improves wireless capacity

March 5, 2009

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RF/Microwave Mobile Communication Laboratory
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A quick check on Wikipedia for slot antenna yields little, but a visit to SFU’s Mobile Communications Lab reveals many possibilities for this unexpected phenomenon.

Normally one thinks of an antenna as a length of wire or metal, as on cars or TVs. A slot antenna is the exact opposite: a long narrow hole in a sheet of metal. Counter-intuitively, this sliver of air can radiate or receive radio waves at the gigahertz frequencies used by cell phones and WiFi networks. "It’s kind of like a mirror image of a wire," says Rodney Vaughan, engineering science professor and resident antenna expert.

His PhD student Jane Yun recently made a breakthrough when she designed a new class of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) slot antennas. In January a team from Industry Canada’s Communication Research Centre (CRC) in Ottawa visited SFU at the invitation of Elmer Sum of the University Industry Liaison Office.

Yun showed how MIMO slot antennas are compact, highly efficient and operate at higher capacities than conventional antennas. "Basically it means more bits per Hertz of frequency," says Vaughan citing applications in cellular, WiFi and Wimax radio.

Slot antennas were first proposed by James Clerk Maxwell in 1860 but the SFU researchers are the first to develop the technology for modern high-speed networks. They have devised systems with a single slot in the centre of multiple metal sheets or many slots on the edges of metal boxes. "The box one works great and would be ideal for cell phones or laptops, which are really little boxes," says Vaughan. Veena Rawat, president of CRC says, "We were very impressed and we hope that by connecting our researchers we’ll create a win-win situation."

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Terry Spurgeon

Needs a live link to the Mobile Lab!

Editor: You are so right

http://www.ensc.sfu.ca/research/mcl

C. Cheng

The link should be:

http://www.ensc.sfu.ca/research/rfmmcl

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