March 14, 2011 — Molex Incorporated, interconnect supplier, has joined with other researchers to advance the goals of the Danish SAFE (Smart Antenna Front End) project. Scheduled to span four years, the $8.7 million project is being conducted by a consortium comprising Aalborg University, Intel Mobile Communications, WiSpry and Molex.
Through collaborative research and new product innovation, SAFE members aim to address communication bandwidth, standards, and antenna issues related to the global proliferation of mobile phone devices.
"Since the mid-1990s, we have struggled to get more bandwidth out of cheap antennas that cover a wide range of mobile communication bands and standards. The size of the antennas and RF components have grown, which is problematic, because the market demands smaller products. Adding more design building blocks reduces overall system performance. With the SAFE program we want to rethink and reinvent how industry solves these challenges," said Professor Gert Frølund Pedersen, head of the Antenna and Propagation section at Aalborg University.
Located in Aalborg, Denmark, the Molex RF Antenna Research team brings to the consortium a state-of-the-art facility and more than a decade of experience in mobile antenna development. Molex designs, develops and manufactures custom antennas and antenna assemblies that support a wide range of wireless communication technologies, including cellular, UMTS, WiFi, WIMAX, Bluetooth, GPS and others.
"We are embarking on necessary next steps in an evolution that began when mobile phone antennas were visible components that could be pulled out and replaced to improve performance," explains Morten Christensen, RF research manager, Molex. "The future is a standardized ‘one size fits all’ antenna system. We intend to create technology capable of handling all bandwidths and radio systems into one small unit that covers all the bands. It must be made in such a way that enables antennas to operate unaffected by user influence, whether they are integrated in a portable cell phone or device, laptop or tablet PC."
A significant project investor, the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation attended the SAFE opening ceremony held in January at the Molex-Denmark facility. Based on a competitive grant application process, the Foundation offers private companies and universities the resources and framework for developing new and important technologies.
Managing director Per Hartmann Christensen, Intel Mobile Communications, Denmark, noted: "Until now, the development of RF and antenna has been separated, yielding less than optimal solutions. In this project, we have for the first time convened leading experts in a targeted effort to develop a specific control and integration technology for antenna and RF that can potentially be incorporated into all mobile phones in the future."
WiSpry, a leading global manufacturer of tunable RF solutions for mobile platforms, has established a new research and development center in Aalborg. "Our MEMS-based technology is the ideal solution to the demanding requirements of today’s multi-mode, multi-band, data-centric terminals, offering the highest performance of any tunable solutions on the market or in development today," adds WiSpry founder and CEO Jeff Hilbert.
Molex delivers complete interconnect solutions for a number of markets including data communications, telecommunications, consumer electronics, industrial, automotive, medical, military, lighting and solar. Established in 1938, the company operates 39 manufacturing locations in 16 countries. The Molex website is www.molex.com.