Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has collaborated with Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) on the development of an extra-thin Ka-band (27 to 40 GHz) active electronically steered array antenna (AESA) featuring a profile of less than three centimetres, to deliver high-speed in-flight connectivity services via satellites at data rates beyond 100 Mbps.
The company has also developed the antenna elements and, in collaboration with Tohoku University and Tohoku MicroTec Co., a radio-frequency integrated circuit (RF-IC) for an envisioned millimeter-wave V-band (40 to 75 GHz) AESA that will be capable of delivering in-flight connectivity at even faster speeds.
Mitsubishi Electric’s new Ka-band AESA is thin and small enough to be installed in any aircraft, regardless of its size, and it can operate even at high latitudes, which will allow passengers to enjoy on-demand streaming and other high-speed internet services on flights worldwide. The proprietary antenna ensures high performance even when beam steering at an elevation angle of as low as 20 degrees, thereby enabling operation in the high latitudes .
Following further testing and demonstrations, the company plans to commercialise its Ka-band AESA after 2023 and a V-band AESA after 2027.
High-power and low-noise amplifiers for transmission/reception circuitry are needed to miniaturise satellite-communication antennas as well as improve their performance. Mitsubishi Electric’s new Ka-band RF-IC incorporates a high-power amplifier boasting an unprecedented power-added efficiency rating of 29.1% (when converting DC input power to RF output signals), 1.8 times that of an existing RF-IC made by Mitsubishi Electric. The RF-IC’s low-noise amplifier achieves an unprecedentedly low noise figure of just 1.8 dB, about 20% lower than that of a conventional model.
For Mitsubishi Electric’s next-generation V-band AESA, RF-ICs are being miniaturised for arraying at narrower intervals than in the case of the Ka-band AESA. Mitsubishi Electric, in collaboration with Tohoku University and Tohoku MicroTec Co., has developed the world’s first three-dimensionally integrated millimeter-wave RF-IC, which it stacks in pairs using a through-silicon vias.