ALCAN Develops Low Cost Liquid Crystal-Based Phased Array Antenna Solutions for 5G

ALCAN Develops Low Cost Liquid Crystal-Based Phased Array Antenna Solutions for 5G712370

ALCAN Systems, a developer of innovative smart antennas at an affordable price, has developed phased array antenna solutions based on patented Liquid Crystal (LC) technology which offers a new approach to beam-steering. This technology delivers all the benefits associated with traditional beam-steering equipment, while drastically reducing CAPEX and OPEX.

5G in low band frequencies only sees a 20% improvement on 4G. To reach its full potential, 5G must operate at mmWave frequencies, but using spectrum above 24 GHz presents three main challenges:

  • PenetrationmmWave is easily blocked, which limits penetration, especially in dense urban areas
  • Range – mmWave frequencies have a range of 300 meters – 50x less than 4G, making more equipment key 
  • Cost – The cost implications of more equipment are compounded by its typically high upfront cost

This makes Electronically Steerable Antennas (ESA) essential when working in mmWave frequencies to improve RF performance, minimize pathloss impact and reduce penetration losses.

Based on extensive research at Darmstadt University, ALCAN’s 5G solutions use liquid crystal which is controlled by an electromagnetic field. This can change the direction of the received or transmitted beam without needing to physically turn the antenna. The patented technology makes for a low CAPEX and OPEX solution to one of biggest issues plaguing mmWave 5G.

ALCAN solutions provide a 5x reduction in power consumption (including RF Front-End) compared to typical silicon beamforming solutions. They offer high performance using only a few watts minimising OPEX costs.

Using Liquid Crystal, most often seen in Smart phones and TV allows the antennas to be manufactured using the same assembly line process, dramatically cutting build costs to of the cost of traditional phased array antennas.

The volume of equipment needed for 5G is huge and so infrastructure must be unobtrusive. ALCAN’s LC antennas allow a completely flat, discrete form factor. The form factor means ALCAN’s solutions can be deployed virtually anywhere. There are no moving parts minimizing maintenance costs and ALCAN’s automatic link alignment for easy deployment.

Click here to view the whitepaper on the technology behind ALCAN's 5G solutions.

Publisher: everything RF