Sofant is designing a state of the art RF MEMS device for 5G applications and it aims to be the first company in a world with such a product. If successful, Sofant will be the first company to commercialise MEMS phase shifters for commercial applications. To the best of our knowledge, there are currently no competitors working on the same approach. Sofant is proposing a novel beamforming architecture which will save an enormous amount of energy and importantly reduce total system costs. Sofant’s architecture avoids the need to have a power amplifier integrated with each antenna element (average of 16 in an array) by replacing it with a single power amplifier which is integrated with each antenna array. This is possible because the MEMS devices targeted insertion loss of less than 2dB, while competitive solutions losses are around 7dB. Sofant dramatic performance advantage saves several components and reduces the antenna array size and cost.
The impact to date can be measured in various ways:
• Increased headcount
Sofant will increase its team by hiring an experienced VP of Engineering and Operations who will start in 2018.
• Patents resulting from project
In period 1, Sofant invented novel methods for packaging the MEMS and the smart antenna module. These patents were filed in December 2016. In addition to the patents filed in period 1, Sofant is drafting an additional patent application as a result of the project. This invention relates to MEMS switches, various methods of changing a state of a MEMS switch and methods for manufacturing a MEMS switch in a hermetic environment.
The economic impact of the project will not be realized until Sofant has a dedicated technology development partner which is actively engage in our target markets. We are successfully pursuing this goal with the aim to have a dedicated partner by the end of this 2018.
Regarding additional social impact, Sofant smart antenna system being realised in this project would enable highly power efficient and low-cost 5G solutions that can be applied in both the mobile devices and base stations (small cells). This will allow fast and reliable internet connections to be deployed throughout Europe, especially in rural areas where communities suffer the lack or the inadequate performance of the available internet connections.