Engineers at the American University of Beirut have designed and tested an unprecedented antenna that can be used for wireless and 3G connections, while paying homage to the national icon, Lebanon’s Cedar tree.
The shape of the cedar lends itself to both cost and usage efficiency. Built-in wireless antennas are conventionally rectangular or circular, but the cedar shape is fashioned on a fractal design.
Fractal antenna performance is achieved by the geometry of the conductor instead of the interaction of several parts.
Mohammed al-Husseini received his PhD while working on this project.
“If we can look at the cedar antenna we have a triangle and we have another triangle and another triangle and the shape keeps repeating itself, so what does it mean an antenna engineering? It means we can use this antenna to operate at multiple frequencies and this is our goal, so the symbolism of the cedar and then the fractal shape of the cedar,” he said.
He added that the frequency of the antenna could be manipulated by a switch, facilitating the connectivity of wireless devices such as the mobile phone.
“A switch is either on or off. When we change the state, the frequency, this frequency moves from one part to another part, so this corresponds to another case of the same antenna so the switches are different and as you can see the frequency shifted,” he said.
“So here we got operation at another frequency, so our goal is to be able to, these switches over here, to be able to control.”
Husseini and his colleagues worked alongside their professor, Karim Kabalan, for two years before successfully testing the antenna prototype.
The antenna made from copper cost six dollars to make, but it would be reduced to just a few cents once it is mass produced.
With the success of the prototype, Professor Kalaban hopes the cedar antenna will be adapted to transmit television bandwidths.
“Now there is more extension to the idea. That is, we would like the switches to be operated by software, as Mohamed has mentioned before, and we would like also to have the same antennas that operate at a TV band by which we can use it for TV transmission rather than only Wi-Fi or 3G, or wireless types of communications,” he said.
“This is for the future, that we have started working on both types of antennas,” he added.
The AUB applied for a patent in the United States last month, which the university anticipates will take a year to process. With that achievement, it would be possible to see the cedar tree antenna’s presence in mobile phones, and a subsequent decrease in costs of the device itself.