Wireless Communications and Remote Sensing Group

Wireless Communications and Remote Sensing underpin most aspects of the modern electronic technologies that are instrumental in shaping the world. The School of EESE is home to one of the UK's largest and most active research groups in this area.

History

The University of Birmingham has had a long tradition in leading UK research in radar, sonar and microwave communications. Our research goes back to the invention of the resonant cavity magnetron in the 1940s that enabled the development of short wavelength microwave radars. Remote sensing systems employ many physical phenomena in addition to electromagnetism such as acoustics and gravity.

The University of Birmingham has been associated with underwater acoustics for nearly one hundred years. Early records document attempts to detect submarine-like objects hidden in a local water-supply reservoir during the First World War. Later documents reveal a research programme for developing narrow-band spectrum analysers for use against the German U-boat fleet during the Second World War.

In the 1950s, the University accommodated the largest research group in Europe researching and developing high-frequency scanning sonar systems, underwater communication systems,transducers and propagation studies. These activities continue today and provide a wealth of interesting and practical projects for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

In 1987 the research activities in optics started with particular emphasis on analysis and design of novel optical devices including DFB lasers, QW-lasers, optical amplifiers, optical filters and optical CDMA networks.

Recent achievements

Since 2000, the radar research in WC&RS group made ground breaking contributions that enhanced its already world leading reputation, in the areas of Bistatic Forward Scatter Radar, Passive GNSS based SAR, Advanced Automotive Sensors and many other exciting areas of communications and remote sensing. Recently, research in THz sensing and communications put the group on the frontier of modern systems development.

The pioneering research on cellular radiowave propagation that underpinned much of the development of modern mobile communications, the co-development, together with Jaguar, of one of the first mm-wave automotive radars, and the first multi-band planar inverted-F antenna that can be found in all mobile phones today. Innovations always were and still are at the top of the group's agenda.

The world's first:

Resonant Cavity magnetron Multi-band planar inverted-F antenna

The Wireless Communication and Remote Sensing (WC&RS) Group includes 7academics, approximately 12 research fellows and 30 research students from all parts of the world. We are training MSc students in Radar and Remote Sensing,Physics for Radio Engineers, Communications Engineers, as well as Microwave and RF Engineering, all of whom find themselves in the highest demand in the communication, aerospace, transportation and defence industries.

Examples of current research efforts

Microwave communications

  • Electrically small antennas: beating conventional size, gain and bandwidth limits using active anti-Foster circuits and multiple feeds.
  • Reconfigurable antennas for multiband and cognitive radios.
  • Active integrated antennas. Merging circuit functions into antennas.
  • High efficiency power amplifiers and novel linearization techniques.

Reconfigurable Vivaldi Antenna: surface current plot

Body centric communications

  • Body worn antennas
  • Body area network channel characterisation and modelling
  • Body area networks at microwave and mm wave bands
4

Body-centric wireless networks: Testing the in-situ performance of body-worn antennas designed to launch a surface wave.

Communications Networks

  • Game theoretic medium access control protocols
  • Adaptive routing protocols
  • Congestion phase transitions in large scale Internet networks
  • Railway and vehicular wireless networks (ad hoc, sensor,etc.)

Resilient recursive routing: An adaptive protocol (purple) outperforms a conventional routing protocol (blue) and an ad hoc routing protocol (green) in a highly volatile tactical wireless mesh network.

Acoustic, sonar and electromagnetic sensors

  • Detection and classification of submerged aquatic vegetation using target-phase
  • Underwater communication, networks, sonar signal processing and calibration.
  • Detection, location and assessment of buried pipes, cables,tree-roots and assets using low-frequency electromagnetics
  • Non-contact assessment of the condition of road surfaces
  • Underground surveying via gravity measurements using quantum technology

Underground surveying cart

Optical and THz communication

  • Optical code division multiple access
  • Optical Quantum Well Laser Amplifiers
  • Vital Signs Monitoring at mm-wave and Terahertz frequencies
  • Terahertz Antennas and Filters for Wireless Communications

An UWB Single feed flower Vivaldi antenna

Automotive sensors

  • Wade aid
  • Speed and trajectory estimation
  • Terrain recognition
  • Imaging in front of vehicles
surface-recognition

Experimental sensors for surface recognition

Radar and sensors networks

  • Forward scatter radar for ground and maritime applications
  • Radio-holographic imaging
  • FSR phenomenology
  • Sea and ground clutter analysis

Radio-holographic image reconstruction

Advanced Radar Technologies

  • Active and Passive BSAR imaging
  • Multi-static/MIMO radar
  • Passive radar
  • Biologically inspired radar

Earth image in the light of GPS

THz systems and technology

  • THz EMW propagation and scattering study
  • Low THz missile seekers
  • Automotive THz radars
  • Low THz systems for helicopters landing
  • Radar for real time sea waves profiling
12

Experimental THz radar for automotive applications

Our research is funded both by governmental organisations, such as the EPSRC, EU, ESA and British Council, as well as typically over one hundred industrial collaborators, such as Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems, SELEX UK,Thales (UK and France), MBDA (UK and France), etc. We have an extensive network of academic collaborations within the university (Physics, Civil Engineering,etc.), in the UK (UCL, QMUL, Bath, Durham, Southampton, Newcastle, Sheffield,Kent, etc.) and abroad (Ohio State University, University of Rome, University of Pisa, Fraunhofer Institute, the University of Auckland, etc.)

Academic staff

  • Professor Mike Cherniakov - Head of WC&RS group and head of Microwave Integrated System Laboratory

    Research Interests: Radar Technology
  • Professor Peter Gardner - Head of School of EESE

    Research Interests: Active, passive and reconfigurable antennas: UHF to THz,Electrically small antennas, High efficiency power amplifiers and linearisers
  • Dr Costas Constantinou - EESE School Head of Research and Knowledge Transfer

    Research Interests: Electromagnetics, antennas and propagation, body area networks, networks and distributed systems
  • Phil Atkins - EESE School

    Research Interests: Sensors, underground mapping, signal-processing, sonar systems, navigation, radio and acoustic communications.
  • Dr Marina Gashinova - EESE School, MISL member

    Research Interests: Bistatic passive and active radar, forward scatter radar,THz imaging, sensors for automotive, defence and aerospace systems
  • Dr Michae Antoniou - EESE School, MISL member

    Research Interests: Radar systems and signal processing, biologically inspired radar, MIMO radar, Bistatic passive and active SAR

Masters and PhD programmes

Members of the WCRS group contribute to an MSc programme in: Communications Engineering.

PhD research opportunities are available across most areas of WCRS research activities, with funding from EESE scholarships or industrial funding available competitively for suitably qualified candidates.