CST: Hello Xiaodong, we’re glad you could take the time to speak to us. Could you perhaps start by telling us a bit about the Antennas and Electromagnetics Research Group?
Chen: We currently have six full-time academics, alongside part-time and support staff. We think we are one of the largest antenna research groups in the UK, perhaps Europe, not just in terms of people, but in terms of the frequencies that we work in. We’re active in a number of areas, from terahertz down to microwave and VHF. In terms of technology, we are very strong in antenna measurement – we have a large antenna measurement laboratory – and design, especially for small antennas.
Alongside the traditional antennas, we’ve recently been doing a lot of work on millimeter wave antennas and quasioptics. One area in particular we’ve been moving into is biomedical antennas. In fact, one of my colleagues is working right now on body-centric antennas for healthcare and treatment.
CST: One application that you mentioned in your presentation was a novel design of antenna. What was the background to that?
Chen: That was based on a multi-layer structure called a “stacked patch”. Stacked patch antennas are not new, but we wanted to understand how they really work and optimize one for multiband use.
CST: And how did CST software help you in that?
Chen: One important requirement of the antenna was circular polarization. Here, the field visualization and animation features in CST MICROWAVE STUDIO were very useful; animating the current flow on the patches gave us insight into the how the antenna behaved.
In the design stage, we also used the optimization tools frequently. These were a real advantage to us. There are a lot of parameters to be optimized, so having the optimizer built into the simulation software is very helpful. In fact, I think my students might even be getting lazy, since they can optimize their designs so easily! Although of course, you still need the knowledge to know which parameters to optimize in the first place.
CST: You’ve been quite active in satellite navigation antenna research recently. Is there any interesting work your group has made in this area that you would like to highlight?
Chen: Actually, GPS is one of the applications that the stacked-patch antenna can be used for. We’ve designed a tri-band antenna for use on small satellites. The antenna can operate on a GPS frequency band and two S-band frequencies, used for satellite communications. Traditionally, these would be served by individual antennas, but for very small satellites, separate antennas would take up too much room. The stacked-patch antenna is very compact, which makes it ideal for this sort of situation.
This antenna will be launched on TechDemoSat-1, a satellite built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. to demonstrate and test new technologies, which is due to launch later this year. Surrey Satellite Technology are one of the leading manufacturers of small satellites, and the project has already been covered by the likes of BBC News, so we’re very excited to be a part of the demonstration.
CST: Very exciting! Thank you for your time, and best of luck with your research.
For some further examples of the group’s research using CST STUDIO SUITE, please see:
- “Printed circular disc monopole antenna for ultra-wideband applications” by J. Liang, C.C. Chiau, X. Chen and C.G. Parini in Electronics Letters (2004), vol. 40 no. 20 pp. 1246-1247
- “On-Body Bluetooth Link Budget: Effects of Surrounding Objects and Role of Surface Waves” by M.U. Rehman, Y. Gao, X. Chen, C.G.Parini, Z. Ying, T. Bolin and J.W. Zweers, presented at Loughborough Antennas and Propagation Conference (2008)
- “Modified PIFA and its array for MIMO terminals” by Y. Gao, C.C. Chiau, X. Chen and C.G. Parini in Electronics Letters (2004), vol. 152 no. 4 pp. 255-259