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Broadband satellite communication services on high-speed vehicles

Project Number: PNE101008
Project Manager: Dr. ir. Chris Roeloffzen
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Tel.: +31-53-4892804
Email: c.g.h.roeloffzen@utwente.nl


In the Satrax project a new type of phased-array antenna system based on optical beamforming using photonic chips is investigated. The antenna can be reconfigured swiftly and dynamically without any mechanical movement and will provide a breakthrough in broadband onboard connectivity.

The investigation is carried out by a dutch consortium made up of academic, researching and industrial parnters, namely Satrax BV, University of Twente, LioniX BV, Nationale laboratorium van ruimtevaart (NLR), Astron, Bruco IC, V-PS, and Phoenix BV. The team is developing a thin and lightweight antenna that can be electronically steered without physically moving the antenna. Such antenna consists of many individual elements which can be steered independently. The challenge is then to synchronize these elements such that the antenna beam can be steered continuously and in a broadband manner. To overcome this challenge the team turns to the emerging concept of integrated microwave photonics (MWP) in which radio frequency (RF) signals are processed using photonic integrated circuits (PICs).

The heart of the novel antenna system is the so-called optical beamforming (OBFN) chip. The photonic chip processes (i.e. delay and combine) the RF signals from the individual antenna elements with ultra-broad instantaneous bandwidth unprecedented by conventional microwave circuits. The chip consists of ring resonator delay elements, tunable optical combiners and an optical sideband filter. It is fabricated with the TriPleXTM waveguide technology optimized for low-loss signal processing where the latest chip generation consists of 40 ring resonators, 15 combiners and an optical sideband filter in a very compact foot print of 1 cm x 2 cm.

Project duration: 2010-2012
Participants: Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaart Laboratorium, ASTRON, Universiteit Twente Telecommunication Engineering, Bruco Integrated Circuits, PhoeniX Software, LioniX and chairing company SatraX.
Project budget CTIT: 248.8 k-€ funding
Involved groups: Telecommunication Engineering (TE)