An electrical engineering professor at UC Irvine has been awarded a $1.2 million DARPA grant to fabricate cheaper “phased array” antennas that could be incorporated into commercial products.
Franco De Flaviis will create the antennas using a breakthrough technology he developed at UCI, which fabricates an array of antennas and a phase shifter, the component that adjusts and directs the antennas. The technology eliminates the need to connect the pieces later in the assembly process, saving time and money and streamlining the design process.
“With this new fabrication technology, we will be able manufacture large arrays that formerly cost $250,000 for a mere $15,000,” said De Flaviis, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “The technology will allow industry to incorporate powerful and sophisticated phased array antennas into commercial products such as laptops or televisions. For example, these antennas make it possible to provide direct TV in a car.”
An array of antennas delivers a stronger, more focused signal and is adjustable, so the user can point the signal toward a specific location, making it less likely to be intercepted.
De Flaviis also achieved cost savings by using inexpensive printed circuit board, rather than fabricating the shifter on gallium arsenide, an expensive semiconductor material.
The new generation of antennas will be manufactured in the UCI Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility (INRF), an 8,600-square-foot clean room facility (class 10,000/1,000/100).