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2001 R&D 100 Award Winner

DRWiN™ Electronically Scanning Antenna

Developers: Dr. David Ginley, Dr. John Perkins, Dr. Philip Parilla, Tanya Rivkin, and Jeff Alleman, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Dr. Louise Sengupta, Dr. Shuquang Chen, Luna Chiu, Dr. Edward Davis, Dr. Cornelus Dutoit, Frederick Duvall, Dr. Ernest Ekelman, Jesse Furry, Peter Hundertmark, Vincent Karasack, Patrick O'Day, Guy Omictin, Douglas Pao, Alden Partridge, Mansour Peyghaleh, Mangepudi Ramesh, and Chenggang Sui, Paratek Microwave, Inc.; Dr. Chris Carlson, Micron Technology, Inc.; Dr. Andrey Borisovich Kozyrev, Dr. Vladimir Nickolaevich Keis, Dr. Tatiana Borisovna Samoilava, Dr. Oleg Ivanovich Soldantenkov, Dr. Mikhail Mickhailovich Gaidukov, and Dr. Vitaly Nickolaevich Osadchy, St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University.

The DRWiN™ electronically scanning antenna is the world's first affordable, commercial scanning antenna. It is up to 3 orders of magnitude less expensive than comparable scanning antennas that today are primarily limited to military applications and customers. As such, this antenna could help revolutionize commercial broadband wireless communications. Unlike traditional commercial antennas, which are built to respond to a broad sector (120°) of wireless users, DRWiN™ can reconfigure itself from broad 120° beam to a narrow 2° beam in a matter of nanoseconds. This enables it to focus all of its power at a selected subscriber, resulting in higher data rates, a stronger signal, and a longer range. The antenna can then re-focus on any subscriber needing service, or switch back to a broad beam. And it can do this while being relatively impervious to noise signals that may otherwise interrupt communications. The reason the DRWiN™ antenna is so versatile is because it uses a revolutionary tunable dialectric material — a material whose dialectric constant can be easily and quickly shifted with a variation in voltage. Changing the dielectric of a material changes the speed at which a signal is transmitted, which enables the phase of the signal and its shape to be easily reconfigured.