New University of Waterloo facility aims to boost next-gen wireless technology

CIARS features a unique anechoic chamber, designed to completely absorb reflections of sound and electromagnetic waves.
CIARS features a unique anechoic chamber, designed to completely absorb reflections of sound and electromagnetic waves. Image courtesy of the University of Waterloo

TORONTO – The University of Waterloo may become the next hub for innovation in next generation wireless technologies with the launch of a new facility this week.

The Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS), located in the engineering department of the university, will be used for testing electromagnetic devices. The facility features four interconnected indoor laboratories, one outdoor lab, and a highly advanced computational facility.

The facility’s instruments measure electromagnetic fields radiated by objects from as small as a human hair, to as big as a two-ton truck, with precision over the widest range of frequency possible.

The university says CIARS could lead to the creation of new wireless technologies for smartphones, cars, healthcare and more.

“CIARS supports and promotes multidisciplinary research collaboration in highly diversified areas such as emerging intelligent wireless technologies, sensing, nano-scale radio-wave devices, bio-medical electromagnetism and more,” said Pearl Sullivan, dean of engineering, in a press release.

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Academic and industry researchers who specialize in areas such as mobile health, car radar, satellite communication, futuristic nano-sensors and smart devices, will be able to use the centre to conduct research.

Researchers will even be able to use the facility remotely.

Researchers also hope CIARS will help them to learn more about a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is not yet fully understood called terahertz.

“Sitting between radio frequency and light-wave, terahertz is the most exciting and least-explored portion of electromagnetic spectrum, open to unlimited possibilities,” said Safieddin Safavi-Naeini of Waterloo’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and CIARS director.

“We have only just started to understand and to explore terahertz in the last decade. Even though we’re just launching our new facility, word has spread and we already have considerable interest from global academic and industry circles.”

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The $15-million facility, which took over five years to build, is considered one of the best in the world for testing electromagnetic devices.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Research Fund (ORF), and industry partners including BlackBerry helped to fund the new lab, which opens Friday.