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Transformation Optics Unlocking Next-Gen Connectivity

Isotropic Systems is a deep-tech start-up company, pioneering the industrialisation of optical devices from the scientific field of transformation optics, unlocking key benefits the satcoms industry needs to satisfy the ever-growing need for more connectivity. Their multi-beam antenna, launching in 2022, is capable of offering many simultaneous connections from a single terminal, without increasing the antenna cost to manufacture or compromising on performance. This unique optics-based terminal will unlock new levels of connectivity across the global ecosystem of existing and next-gen satellites.

With investment from some of the biggest names in the industry: Boeing HorizonX Global Ventures, SES, UK Government Future Fund and Promus Ventures/Orbital Ventures, Isotropic Systems’ financial support and growth plan are robust. Their initial focus for launch is government applications; with aerospace, rail and maritime markets following soon after. However, they have the capability to expand further into community satellite broadband in the future if the opportunity arises.

Isotropic Systems are actively hiring for skilled and ambitious engineers who want to help shape the future of the satcoms industry. Visit their Careers Page for more information and to view & apply to current vacancies. They are working hard to practice and promote diversity, inclusion and equality within the workplace, click here to read more about their efforts.

Below is a Q&A with Maria Papaioannou, the Director of Lens Antenna Engineering at Isotropic Systems. Maria leads a fantastic team of lens antenna engineers and computational physicists. Together, they are designing RF lenses that unlock key performance differentiators and scanning capabilities to the Isotropic terminals.

What inspired you to become an engineer in the field of optics?

The field of optics constitutes an inexhaustible source of inspiration across a very diverse field of applications – antennas, imaging, sensing, computing, fibre optics, solar panels to name just a few. I am a telecommunications engineer by background having conducted research on optics and lens applications across different parts of the spectrum. Our work on optical beamforming at Isotropic Systems, is a brilliant proof of the incredible capabilities available to the world through the field of optics.

Why is it exciting to do what you do at Isotropic Systems?

Isotropic Systems is providing disruptive solutions to the telecoms industry by pushing the boundaries of innovation in the field of optics, circuits and fine engineering in bringing solutions with unprecedented trades of capabilities to market. We have a fantastic interdisciplinary team that is great to work with, learn from and share the extraordinary experience of creating something new.

What are your thoughts on transformation optics and the impact on the satellite communications industry?

There is an enormous capacity coming online in both Ku and Ka frequency bands as well as LEO, MEO, GEO networks. In order to fully harvest this capacity, the industry needs a fully flexible terminal that does not suffer from the cost and power implications as they relate to conventional phased arrays. Our transformation optics inspired optical beamformers are enabling the engineering of a terminal that can address these challenges and provide the required flexible solution to operators without the cost and power implications of currently available solutions.

What are your thoughts on women in STEM? What advice would you have for women entering the satellite communications sector?

Many engineering disciplines, including the satellite communications sector, have been male dominated for many years. We are seeing a positive change in gender diversity in engineering and I am hopeful that this will continue but there is still room for improvement and it will not happen overnight. Women in engineering need to continue to advocate for equal treatment in the workplace and request the appropriate support from their company in cases where this is not the case. Lastly, a concerted effort is required from schools, universities and industry to ensure equal opportunities exist and young girls are equally motivated to follow a STEM path from the early stages and all the way throughout their education.

Isotropic Systems are sponsoring Milsatcoms Online, taking place on 9 – 12 March 2021.

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