Our goal is to facilitate affordable satellite communication using future low-Earth orbit satellite constellations. We are developing a liquid crystal technology that enables a new type of flat smart antenna needed to communicate with these constellations. This technology-led approach can make communication more versatile and affordable, allowing more people in remote, developing communities to benefit from better connectivity.
Exploring the possibilities of liquid crystal technology
In 1888, scientists encountered a strange occurrence while working with a certain chemical substance. When heated, it transitioned through a state that was neither solid, liquid, nor gas. Physicists studied this phenomenon and named it “liquid crystals”.
Our company has been exploring the possibilities of liquid crystals for over 110 years. Our brand of highly reliable licristal® materials was launched in 1969 and is the basis for the modern flat-screen technology used in today’s televisions and smartphones. Since then, we’ve never stopped innovating with liquid crystal materials and technologies. They have multiple uses, from vibrant displays, smart windows and digital optics to creating faster and more reliable communication through smart antenna technology.
Quiz: What makes antennas “smart”?
The antennas use artificial intelligence to decode encrypted incoming signals.
The antennas can automatically track satellites to ensure a stable satellite link for an excellent data connection.
The antennas can interpret missing parts of incoming signals and fill them in automatically to complete the transmission.
Smart antennas: steerable and efficient
High data rate radio connections require very high frequencies. To establish a link between the ground-based antenna and the satellite, a line of sight connection is needed. This can be achieved by mechanically pointing the antenna using motors and complicated mechanics, but this type of antenna is generally bulky, requiring regular and costly maintenance. An improved, alternative antenna consists of an array of antennas driven in a way that it can electronically steer the antenna beam in the desired direction (known as a “phased array antenna”). This type of antenna has a flat form factor.
Using liquid crystal technology, these antenna arrays can be driven in an energy-efficient way. Better yet, they can be mass produced in the same setting in which LC displays are manufactured, which enables affordable antenna terminals.
Data transmission is the future
50 years ago, the predecessor of the Internet was created, starting with a simple message being sent from one computer at Stanford Research Institute to another one in Los Angeles. Today, we transmit vast amounts of information between computers, with an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data1 being generated per day. That’s a number with 18 zeros!
And data demand is growing by around 25% per year, with mobile data demand rising at close to 50% per year. Our future is digital, and it is of vital importance to create transmission methods that are stable, fast, flexible, energy efficient, and affordable for all.
1) Source: www.forbes.com
1) Source: www.iss.europa.eu
Reaching the remotest of areas
Global Head of One Display & Smart Antenna
Dieter Schroth is the Head of the Smart Antenna Business and Senior Director for Strategic Business Development. He is driving new growth initiatives within the Display Solutions Business Unit.
|Education:||Business Administration – Marketing, Organization and Psychology|
|Joined our company in:||1998|
|Focus areas:||Smart Antenna and Innovation in Displays|
Making connectivity work
Many people don’t know that satellite technology is the only way to track containers traveling on ships or in remote areas. This is also true for connecting and monitoring devices on power lines, pipelines and other critical infrastructure as they too are often placed in remote areas. All these applications require the right satellite and antenna technology. LC-based smart antennas will be a critical component of these new communication networks.
Smart and sustainable
LC antennas consume less power than conventional ones and could even be powered by solar energy someday. Their slim design means they are resource efficient and easy to integrate within existing architecture and platforms. This type of antenna is also more reliable and has a longer life span. If parts don’t need to be repaired or replaced, they use even fewer resources. A flat form factor and no drag mean lower fuel consumption in mobile environments. And last but not least, we expect the antennas to be highly affordable in the future, allowing this technology to be deployed in low- and middle-income countries. Making our future smart may therefore also make it more sustainable.
Our commitment to the SDGs
Helping the world communicate
We want to create shared value: for our company in the form of business growth and for society by making wireless communication even more reliable, fast and accessible to those who need it, in line with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The liquid crystal technology we have developed for smart antennas can support this dual aim. In particular, it can facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in low- and middle-income countries through enhanced technological capabilities (SDG target 9.a.).
In a bid to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG target 17.16.), we also work with partners across the globe to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources.
Enabling uninterrupted and fast data transmission in remote locations is a vital building block for solving many of society’s most prominent challenges.”