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NRAO and Mini-Circuits partner in development of cascadable absorptive RF filters

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., and Mini-Circuits, headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y., have entered into a licensing agreement to permit the use of NRAO-developed technology in a new suite of commercial electronics products.

This newly signed agreement, which covers a part of the NRAO portfolio of radio frequency filters known as cascadable absorptive filters, will foster the development of new radio-frequency-based technologies in a wide range of commercial applications. The underlying technologies for this novel class of filters were developed by NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory, where some of the world’s most sophisticated radio astronomy technologies are engineered.

Filters are a fundamental building block of nearly every RF system in existence today, used to eliminate unwanted signals in receiver and transmitter architectures.  Traditional filters work by reflecting undesired signals back to the source, which can potentially cause systemic problems such as intermodulation products and gain ripples that adversely affect desired signals in the pass band. This new, patented filter topology, which was developed by NRAO scientist Matt Morgan, avoids these problems by absorbing unwanted signals in the stop band.

“The reflectionless filter topology that we are now able to bring to the market represents a true breakthrough in a long standing problem of embedding filters within RF transmit and receiver chains.  These filters eliminate the need for additional attenuators and isolation amplifiers around sensitive components, enabling significant improvement in overall system dynamic range.” said Ted Heil, president of Mini-Circuits. “The NRAO is world-renowned for its amazing technical capabilities, and we’re delighted to have such a strong partner as we develop new commercial technologies.” The licensing agreement is facilitated by NRAO’s Technology Transfer Office, which was established to fulfill the Congressional directive to support commercialization of federally funded research and technology development.

“The technologies developed by NRAO engineers have helped to reshape our understanding of the cosmos. They also offer unparalleled capabilities in the realm of technology transfer,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “This agreement will help ensure that the work done here not only has lasting benefit to fundamental science but also propagates throughout the economy.”

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