Case study: ISIS helps mobile phone component manufacturers

Ceramic antennas in mobile phones

Mobile phones and base stations contain ceramic antennas called dielectric resonators. Testing at ISIS has aided manufacture of ceramic resonators to the correct specification
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ISIS helps mobile phone component manufacturers keep up with next-generation demand.

  • Mobile phones and their base stations contain ceramic antennas called dielectric resonators that are tuned to individual phone frequencies
  • Due to increased consumer demand, new materials are required with improved performance to enable miniaturisation and more efficient transmission of communication signals
  • Economic considerations require these components to be manufactured efficiently and without wastage
  • ISIS has been helping global wireless solutions company Powerwave to understand the manufacturing process at an atomic level and assure the quality of its parts

Mobile phones use small antennas known as dielectric resonators to give each phone its dedicated frequency. These ceramic components are used in base stations and handsets to carry the correct communication signals and filter out the bogus ones. 

The evolving design of mobile phones and increasing consumer demand has created a need to improve performance and lower the costs of these ceramic resonators. This includes reducing their power loss, which makes quality assurance essential during manufacture.

Wireless solutions company Powerwave UK came to ISIS to recreate the firing stage of the ceramic components. Using neutron diffraction, ISIS scientists investigated the process at temperatures higher than the1000 °C at which the ceramic components are usually produced.

The research was able to identify the atomic-scale differences between materials processed under identical conditions, but which have different dielectric properties. 

Testing at ISIS has proved significantly more efficient than previous trial-and-error methods, and has aided the manufacture of ceramic resonators to the correct specification.

“The world-leading work undertaken by ISIS, in collaboration with Liverpool University, generated the intrinsic data necessary for the understanding of the structure of these complex materials,” says David Iddles, development manager in the ceramics division of Powerwave UK.

Martyn Bull, Richard Ibberson

Research date: January 2006

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