Small, low power flatter metamaterial satellite receivers from Kymeta and possibilities for next generation stealth planes

Intelsat the world’s leading provider of satellite services, and Kymeta Corporation, the leading developer of metamaterials-based antenna technology, announced an agreement to design and produce innovative, flat, electronically steerable, Ku-band mTenna™ satellite antenna solutions that are optimized for the Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellite (HTS) platform. The first Intelsat EpicNG satellite is expected to launch in late 2015.

Intelsat EpicNG satellite platform which will deliver increased throughput and cost efficiency. Just as important is our investment in this new, metamaterials-based ground technology which will simplify access to our satellites and open attractive new markets for our solutions.

Kymeta’s flat, thin, light and low-cost satellite tracking antennas will be designed to work seamlessly with Intelsat’s satellite fleet, providing complete flexibility to establish connectivity in sectors for which traditional antennas are not currently practical or feasible. The Intelsat-Kymeta development agreement is expected to lead to a range of antenna and terminal products across our core application verticals such as maritime and aero mobility, content delivery and wireless backhaul applications. In addition, it will provide the opportunity to expand our reach into new verticals such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M) and ground transportation which are expected to experience significant demand over the next 10 years. Kymeta has agreed to work exclusively with Intelsat on Ku-band technology development in certain application verticals.

“We are excited to partner with Intelsat to bring Kymeta’s patented mTenna™ technology to existing and newly enabled high-volume markets for mobile satellite communications,” stated Dr. Nathan Kundtz, President and Chief Technology Officer of Kymeta.

Metamaterial unit cells based on the complimentary ELC resonator structure, the orientation of the liquid crystal itself can be modulated through the application of a bias voltage to the central island of a unit cell. This bias is entirely capacitive, resulting in no continuous current draw and minimal total power requirements. In practice, less than 2 W of power are required for even large antenna panels. In principal, it is possible the power draw could be limited to several milliwatts.

One of the particularly intriguing aspects of liquid crystal for space applications is that LC is naturally radiation hardened. Studies have shown no observable systematic effects from even very high levels of radiation from Cobalt 60 and neutron sources. Regardless of architecture, this makes the use of LC attractive for these applications

China is also working on metamaterial satellite antennae and next generation stealth planes

Chinese researchers are investigating metamaterials for the following applications

* notebook-sized satellite antennae,
* flexible ceramics
* defensive walls that can reduce the impact of earthquakes and tsunamis
* smart shoes capable of sensing terrain
* invisible planes.

China’s 863 Program (State High-Tech Development Plan), 973 Program (National Basic Research Program) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China are all receiving government funding to explore the field.

Liu Ruopeng, who has a doctorate in electronic engineering from Duke University in the US and was selected as a top-level 863 Program specialist in metamaterials at the age of 29. He currently serves as the president of the Shenzhen-based Kuang-Chi Institute of Advanced Technology and the chair of KuangChi Science. Founded in 2010, Kuang-Chi has applied for more than 2,800 patents, 86% of which are linked to the metamaterials materials industry.

One of the breakthroughs achieved by Liu and his team is Meta-RF technology. Based on a complex electromagnetic structure design, the technology controls and modulates the transmission of electromagnetic waves with high accuracy.

Using Meta-RF technology, Kuang-Chi has developed electromagnetic metamaterial antennas, which can launch energy into free space and has applications in wireless communication, space communications, GPS, satellites, space vehicle navigation and airplanes. Using a circuit board that can be folded to the size of a notebook, the technology enables devices to connect to satellite broadband internet from airplanes, trains, boats and cars from remote locations. The advantage of the antennae is that they can detect satellites anywhere, unlike traditional dish-shaped antennae that are locked in to point at one particular satellite.

* Meta RF uses metamaterial electromagnetic film. The film is the metamaterial core layer of a satellite communication antenna is only 2 mm thick. With this product, a satellite communication system stands out for small size, light weight and portability.

* Meta RF allows antennas to have shapes hat conform with buildings and devices
The Meta-RF electromagnetic modulation technology is adopted to enable the satellite communication antenna to be conformal with a building wall and the enclosure of a large-sized system device, thereby realizing small windage, aesthetic appearance, and integration.

* Foldable and removable satellite communication antenna
The metamaterial electromagnetic film can be assembled, folded and removed. Because of the excellent portability, the product can be fast deployed and therefore addresses communication needs in emergency.

* All-weather adaptability
The electromagnetic metamaterial technology is durable in all weather conditions and can protect itself against wind, snow, thunderstorm, corrosion, salt spray, and mould.