UK university hopes glass panel will solve problem of interference in aircraft cabins

A lightweight glass panel with a built-in electrical circuit that reflects electromagnetic signals generated by passengers' electronic devices within an airliner cabin has been developed by University of Warwick researchers in the UK.

The panel, which could also be made from plastic, can only block one frequency of electromagnetic interference at a time, but can be electronically tuned to block a wide range of frequencies.

Existing test panels operate from 2-5Ghz, but researchers believe that they can lower or raise that frequency range.

"It uses an array of metallic conductor elements. The size of the circuit's elements is proportional to the wavelengths of the frequencies [to be blocked]," says University of Warwick lecturer Dr Christos Mias.

Today the solution for mobile telephone interference is to modify the aircraft to act as a "phone mast", enabling the cell phone to link to its network at a low power output. This prevents mobile telephones sending signals out at maximum strength, which can interfere with an aircraft's avionics.

However, the reflecting panels could be used to block mobile telephones and a range of other signals including computer wireless networks and Bluetooth products.

Panels that operate at one fixed frequency have been used previously in military radomes to protect radar.

Mias's team has also developed a non-tunable panel and this will reflect two frequencies at once.


Source: Flight International