Explorathon and Midlothian Science Festival

As usual, at the beginning of every academic year many public events take place in Edinburgh. Among these events, there were public engagement activities that were addressing mostly to young children and how we could inspire the new generation in science. So, during the last week of September and the two first weeks of October, Heriot-Watt university and REVOLVE were involved in many of these activities.

Explorathon 2019 took place this year at the Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, a wonderful centre for plant research conservation and education. Diverse researchers from various scientific backgrounds from the city of Edinburgh represented Universities and Research Institutions. Hands-on activities from topics like medicine, biology, physics and sociology were demonstrated to the young visitors. Dozens of young people flocked to the building located into the magnificent landscape of the Botanic Gardens. Heriot-Watt University and REVOLVE had their own booth named ‘Engineering for Beginners’, with two tables full of experiments for young people and not only.

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The visitors had the opportunity to get involved in experiments from the field of science and engineering while the smile on their face revealed their pleasure to the experiments and filled us with joy and satisfaction. Wireless power transfer, visual tricks and illusions, magnetic and electric fields with batteries and magnets as well as experiments with acoustic waves were some of the activities demonstrated to the kids and the attendants. Finally, there is no doubt for the great organization and the well succeeded objective of the venue that is nothing but inspiring the new generation in science.

In the context of Midlothian Science Festival, Heriot Watt University teamed up with Black Diamond radio station in an open day event called ‘Making Radio Waves’. The concept of this collaboration was to invite people interested in learning about radio waves to the beautiful premises of Black Diamond FM on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The hosting of the members of Black Diamond FM was outstanding and the attendees (people of different ages) had the opportunity to listen to a presentation about the basics of radio waves, visit the premises of the radio station and see how a radio show is set up and broadcasted, as well as put their hands on the experiments provided and demonstrated by the Heriot-Watt team.

Finally, again in the context of Midlothian Science Festival, Heriot-Watt and REVOLVE participated in a third outreach event which took place at the local library of Penicuik. Universities and other institutions related to science teamed up for demonstrating experiments related to science and nature with view to inspire the young attendees in this exciting world.

Penicuik Library 2

Penicuik Library Outreach

The local community responded massively to the Midlothian Science Festival’s call and dozens of children with their parents flooded the library. Heriot-Watt’s booth experienced α strong traffic from the enthusiastic young girls and boys who came to see our experiments and learn all this ‘magic’ that exists at this planet and universe.

 

REVOLVE and EuCAP

The 13thEuropean Conference on Antennas and Propagation took place from the 31th of March until the 5thof April in the beautiful city of Krakow and included a wide range of delegates from academia and industry from all over the world.

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The massive participation and the high quality of the antennas and propagation representatives denote the big success of the conference. Of course, REVOLVE project could not be absent from this big event. Many delegates from the REVOLVE consortium were present in EuCAP and among them myself.

Above all, I want to express my absolute delight and satisfaction for being a part of the most important meeting held by the best both academic and industrial representatives on antennas and propagation. From my side, I presented the paper with title ‘Design of a Compact Four-Way Dual Polarization Orthomode Power Divider for Multiport Radiating Elements’ in the 23rdConvened Session named ‘Antenna needs and solutions for future Space missions’. This work presents briefly the design and evaluation of a dual-polarized microwave excitation network, which comprises 4 outputs and its afterwards connection to feed a stacked Fabry-Perot cavity antenna. The successful presentation of this project as well as the massive attendance and interest of the conference’s delegates at this session were the two most memorable things for me.

Of course, during the conference I had the chance to meet people from industries as well as academia (universities, R&D sections at companies, research centers), with whom I had time to exchange views and ideas about several aspects related to the emerging microwave and antennas technologies. On the whole, this EuCAP has been an absolutely inspiring and motivating experience for me.

Feed Antennas

Being already in 2018 there is no doubt that satellite communications are an integral part of our life. Although not visible from earth, their importance can be met in a wide range of services. Just imagine the two most common facts: Using a positioning system to track yourself in an isolated place and using your smartphone to communicate with other people or have access to multimedia. Obviously, the satellites can provide these kind of services in an excellent way, whereas there is a great variety of further applications where their use is vital as well, such as weather prediction and space exploration to name a few.

Satellites are in principle big and complex structures, where many components are assembled together so that the satellite can be launched from the earth to the space. One of the most significant part of a satellite is the antennas. If we could compare a satellite with a human, the antennas are “the eyes and the ears”. You can easily understand that without the antennas, a satellite cannot communicate with nobody and after all has not a reason to exist!

Here at REVOLVE we are doing research around antennas for satellites as you may already know. Every one of us studies different aspects and technologies. In a very fundamental analysis, the antennas implemented and used on satellites can be categorized into two principal domains: the so called Focal Array Fed Reflectors and the Direct Radiating Antenna Arrays. In the first category belong the typical parabolic structures fed by the so called feed-antennas (usually horn antennas) which are more or less widely known, whereas in the second single antennas are formed in an array and they radiate themselves.

My subject of research concerns the feed antennas. These antennas are almost always the typical horn antennas, which are used many years now because of their great performance. Although they are described as feed antennas this might be a bit confusing or misleading as the same antennas could be used as direct radiating arrays without the presence of a reflector. In any case, my 3 year journey at REVOLVE will go through the different existing technologies around the feed antennas and we will try to find out how we could make them function better and in a more compact shape as the current solutions have a bulky profile.

At last, somebody might wonder…so what is it so important about it? There may be many things important that neither myself could even recognize, but as I mentioned earlier the satellites are big and complex structures so imagine how important would be if we could provide something smaller and lighter. Furthermore, think about that this “something” are the antennas which constitute a very basic and important part of a satellite and after all we are moving ahead to the 5G era and the next years a great increase in the multimedia usage and communication services is about to take place, so we need to confine with these rules.