Student Develops Novel Low-Cost, High-Performance Transmitter for Radar


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A Khalifa University Master’s student has developed a novel wideband transmitter that can receive and transmit high frequency radio waves at a much lower cost and physical footprint than traditional radar technology.

The transmitter, developed by Electrical and Computer Engineering Master’s student Ahood Abdulla Ali Al Junaibi, offers scope to enhance the performance of detection, surveillance and other radar-based applications, as well as accelerate the development of the UAE’s 5G communication networks. Al Junaibi, who is also a researcher with the Emirates Technology and Innovation Center (ETIC), unveiled a prototype of the innovative transmitter at the 2017 IEEE Asia Pacific Microwave Conference (APMC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The transmitter employs a unique type of phased array antenna that does not rely on costly and bulky mechanical phase shifters, and can detect objects on multiple bands of super high frequency radio waves between two and six gigahertz (GHz). This high frequency band of the radio spectrum is used for most radar transmitters, wireless local area networks (LANs), mobile phones, and satellite communications, and includes the band on which the next generation of wireless communications networks, known as 5G wireless, will operate.

A phased array antenna is a group of antennas whose emitted signals are combined to enhance a radar’s ability to ‘see’ objects, which it does by sending out radio waves that bounce off targets and return to the radar’s receivers. The phased array is steered to transmit a strong signal beam in a desired direction. However, manual steering of the phased array antenna requires expensive phase shifters. Al Junaibi’s wideband phased array transmitter avoids such phase shifters, bringing the cost and physical footprint of the radar system down.
Hazzaa Al Abdouli, General Director of ETIC, said: “As exemplified through Al Junaibi’s work, ETIC is fostering the production of innovative, industry-relevant and locally-developed high-tech products aimed at increasing the competitiveness of UAE industries, while preparing a cadre of highly-skilled Emirati engineers ready to enter and lead these industries. We believe Al Junaibi’s research work will bring long-term benefits to the UAE economy in the form of intellectual property rights and technology innovation.”

Al Junaibi said: “Instead of using traditional phase shifters to mechanically rotate the radar, which pose major limitations to radars’ performance, our antennas use a Rotman lens, which allows us to scan the signal beam electronically in all directions without any physical rotation of the antenna required. I am grateful to ETIC and my faculty advisor for their support that has enabled me to develop something that will be useful to the communications sector in the UAE and across the world.”

ETIC was established in 2014 by a consortium that included the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR), which is now a part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology. ETIC primes research for prototype development by working directly with select students at an early stage in their thesis development to ensure the intended research outcomes are aimed at producing relevant solutions for a specific industrial problem. It aims to build local research capacity and cultivate Emirati engineering talent, while bringing innovations to key UAE sectors.

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