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Industry News

Focus on EUMC and an Overview of the Microwaves and RF Market

October 2, 2007
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This is the third time that the European Microwave Conference, in the framework of European Microwave Week, will be held in Munich, Germany. This distinguished conference has become a core feature of EuMW and I am confident that EuMC 2007 will be informative, stimulating and enjoyable.


There were a high number of submissions received from all over the world, but this year, through critical selection, there will be fewer sessions than in previous conferences, while maintaining the delivery of a high quality and comprehensive technical programme.

The conference is dedicated to a broad range of high-frequency related topics, from materials and technologies to integrated circuits, systems and applications. It is the perfect platform for keeping up to date with recent achievements in the RF, microwave and millimetre-wave domain and an exciting forum for the presentation and discussion of the most recent advances in the microwave arena.

This year large numbers of papers were submitted, particularly on the topics of filters, antennas, power amplifiers and linearisers, microwave measurement/characterisation techniques, metamaterials/photonic bandgap structures and devices, tuneable RF-components and reconfigurable systems as well as RF-MEMS.

The EuMC will consist of three poster sessions and 66 regular oral sessions, 22 of which are joint sessions with the associated conferences, EuMIC, ECWT and EuRAD. This large number was a particular aim, in accordance with the EuMW concept of integrating the four conferences and uniting their respective communities. In addition, there are various workshops designed to encourage technical exchanges on specific topics in the microwave arena.

The complete EuMW Conference Session Timetable can be viewed at: www.eumweek.com/pdf/Sessions_Matrix.pdf

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Technology Perspective Rolf Jakoby’s overview of the European microwaves and RF sector

The RF and microwave sector is currently developing strongly worldwide and in Europe, driven by both commercial and security/defence applications, where mobile and wireless communications are the key drivers. Europe is at the forefront of the mobile and wireless communications sector, boasting many of the world’s largest equipment suppliers, mobile phone companies and mobile content producers. This is no accident, but the result of a coordinated European Union effort by the European Commission, national governments and industry as well as the result of the EU’s future vision of ‘ambient intelligence’ featuring ‘always-on’ connectivity for European citizens.

The basis for Europe’s success is GSM and 3G systems such as UMTS, where enhanced UMTS-TDD competes directly with WiMAX (long range system) and WiFi (shorter range system). Both aim to offer DSL-class Internet access in addition to phone services. GSM/UMTS is evolving to an advanced 4G system, the 3GPP LTE effort is aiming for high bandwidth, low latency, all-IP networks with voice services built on top. In addition, Mobile Broadband Wireless Access technology is being developed for operations from 120 to 350 km/h. All this will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness, boosting economic growth and ensuring sustainable prosperity.

Europe is also well placed in satellite communication systems, where it is home to three of the five largest operators in the world. These provide global telecommunications, television broadcasting, data and mobile services. Satellite technology has been strongly supported through national agencies and the European Space Agency. Perhaps the best known program is Galileo, the global navigation infrastructure system.

Of key strategic importance to Europe’s economy is the high-end automotive sector. There is continuing interest in automotive radar systems at 77 GHz. At much higher frequencies, there are intriguing signs that the upper mm-wave and THz region, long unexploited, is beginning to open up entirely new markets and opportunities.

European industry is also the world leader in micro-systems and related advanced technologies, with nano-system development another key target. So too are distributed wireless sensors integrating many novel sensor technologies and addressing various applications ranging from RFID, climate monitoring, security and biomedical systems.

Challenges facing the industry include coping with the competing demands of linearity, power and spectrum efficiency in emerging radio systems. Also, tunability and reconfigurability, so natural at the digital level, will be required in the future at the level of the RF transceiver (front end), in order to achieve cost-effective frequency-agile, multi-band, multi-access radios, RF-beamforming antenna configurations, RF sensors or RFIDs in the microwave and mm-wave region. Another future goal is ‘cognitive radio’ that can sense its environment and intelligently adapt itself to meet user needs optimally.

A sticking point is the availability of ‘compact’ tuneable or switchable microwave components that have high performance at a cost that is attractive for low and high volume production. Besides RF MEMS or semiconductor devices such as varactors or CMOS silicon-on-sapphire RF switches, emerging tuneable passives based on ferroelectric thin and thick films or liquid crystal cavities might play a part in the future.

Overall, I believe the RF and microwave sector is exciting, growing and has mainstream strategic importance with excellent future prospects.

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