Compact Radio Frequency device enhances a new generation of wireless communication

Regina Lau

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A team of CityU researchers, in collaboration with Freescale, a major US semiconductor manufacturer, has developed a device that aims at popularizing the use of an emerging global wireless communications standard—ZigBee.


The device, an IC-chip module that incorporates a compact antenna-RF (Radio Frequency) circuitry system, marks a successful collaboration between CityU and the wireless communications industry, highlighting CityU’s expertise in antenna and RF circuitry.


ZigBee, ideal for middle-distance data transmission, is well suited for sensing and control applications in lighting, air-conditioning and security systems. It works well in the home and for industry automation. When compared with another global standard, Bluetooth, currently popular for hand-free communication over a short distance such as through mobile phone headsets, ZigBee creates an environment for data to be transmitted over a longer distance. It also uses less energy and is more durable. 


CityU wireless communications experts in charge of the project are Professor C H Chan, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering; Professor K M Luk, Head of the Department of Electronic Engineering (EE); Dr Xue Quan, EE Associate Professor; and Mr Wong Hang, an engineer in CityU’s Wireless Communications Research Centre


“The most challenging aspect of the project is producing a compact module—15 mm x 30 mm—with a powerful performance, i.e. transmission over 70 metres,” Professor Chan said. “CityU’s unique strengths in antenna and RF circuitry have combined to make this happen.”


Before this solution offered by CityU, chip modules of that size could only transmit data up to 30 metres.


To date, CityU is the first partner in the Asia Pacific region to have offered a successful solution to Freescale. The less-than-thumb-size device is the most compact among Freescale chip modules that have the capability to transmit data within 70 metres. “The smaller the size of the module, the more widely applicable it will be in the control application of electronic appliances,” Professor Luk said.


The compact module is on display today at the ZigBee Open House exhibition staged at Langham Plaza Hotel in Mongkok. The exhibition is organized by the ZigBee Alliance, an association of companies promoting ZigBee. Freescale is among its member companies showcasing its ZigBee products at the exhibition.




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