Scientists have developed new digital antennas which may lead to next generation of smartphones that are more energy efficient and are up to 100 to 1000 times faster than current cellphones.
Currently, smartphone antennas are placed at the top and bottom of the screens, which means phone's touch screen does not cover the entire phone. With the help of new method, developed by researchers at Aalto University in Finland, antennas need less space and the phone display can be made larger and the phone design can be more free.
The new antenna makes it possible to reach the data transfer speed set as the objective for the next generation of phones, which is 100 to 1000 times faster than that of current phones.
In addition, battery life will be improved owing to the greater efficiency of the new method. With the new digital antennas, "many smartphone
applications like GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will no longer need their own antennas," said Jari-Matti Hannula, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University.
"All of the phone's data transfer can take place through one digitally controlled antenna. This in turn makes phone design easier and enables a larger screen size as the antenna does not require so much space," added Hannula. Traditionally one antenna works with either one or a few different frequencies. With the new digital antennas, several small antenna elements can be combined to work together as one antenna that can be made to operate digitally with any frequency, researchers said.
These new antennas may also dispose of the analogue components that traditional antennas use to tune into the desired frequency. This facilitates antenna design and enables the creation of more compact antennas with better radiation efficiency.
Antenna's radiation efficiency has in recent times been falling because the frequency range used by mobile phones has been continuously increasing. Poor radiation efficiency leads to a short transmission range, for which network operators are then forced to compensate with a denser network of base stations.
Energy is wasted in both the phone and the base station. In addition, increasing the network density is expensive. The new method will revolutionise the fifth generation of mobile phones. The antennas currently in use are mostly based on technology developed half a century ago. The research was published in the journal IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters.