Aston University: Aston University partners with Pulse Power and Measurement to develop game-changing satellite communication technology

Aston University has been working with Pulse Power and Measurement Ltd (PPM) through a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) to develop a game-changing approach to technology used in the radio-over-fibre communications industry.

The project will look to transform the connection between low earth orbit (LEO) satellite antenna dishes and modems through optics rather than electronics, delivering performance, functionality and cost benefits.

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified graduate, known as a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is the leading KTP provider within the Midlands.

PPM designs and manufactures a wide range of radio frequency (RF) over fibre systems, which allow RF electrical signals to be submitted over fibre optic cables. Its ‘ViaLite Communications’ business division is focused on optical transportation and manipulation of analogue radio communication signals used in applications such as satellite communications, telemetry, broadcasting, cellular base stations and radar. The company has a range of high-profile international clients, including tier 1 satellite and broadcast providers.

Through the KTP, PPM will have access to academic expertise from the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies, one of the largest photonics research groups in the world. The academics working on this project are Dr Paul Harper and Professor Wladek Forysiak, both of whom have extensive experience of academic research and industrial development in the field of optical fibre communications.

Dr Harper is head of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering department, while Professor Forysiak is currently a Royal Academy of Engineering Professor in highly integrated coherent optical fibre communications and has previously held positions as EPSRC Manufacturing Fellow and Royal Society Industry Fellow.

Gary Barton, company supervisor at PPM, said: “Collaborating with Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies is enabling us to push the boundaries of optical transport systems necessary to meet the challenges of new and diverse market requirements.”

Dr Paul Harper, head of electrical and electronic engineering at Aston University, said: “This KTP project has been a great way for us to work with a new industrial partner and learn from PPM’s expertise in radio-over-fibre systems while passing on our optical fibre systems knowledge.”

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