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New 'Anechoic Chamber' key to mobile phone research

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Scientists in West Yorkshire are making a noise about a new facility that is helping their research into mobile phone handsets. The University of Bradford's Mobile and Satellite Communications Research Centre (MSCRC) has recently unveiled its 800,000 (USD1.6 million) 'anechoic chamber'. This facility, paid for by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the EU, is a sound proof room which has completely dead acoustics and blocks out all radio waves, radiation and magnetic interference.

The chamber, which sits in the Centre's Radio Frequency Engineering Laboratory and measures 100 cubic metres, will play a vital role in a lot of the MSCRC's research in the areas of mobile, wireless and satellite communications.

Raed Abd-Alhameed, Professor of Electromagnetics and Radio Frequency Engineering in the University's School of Engineering, Design and Technology, is one of the key researchers in the MSCRC. He said: "We are very proud of the anechoic chamber and it will serve an important role in the Centre for the kinds of industry-backed research we do.

"The chamber totally isolates outside interference and signals from such things as radio waves and mobile phone transmissions that constantly surround us. This means we can test sensors, antennas and other transmission devices in a completely controlled environment, measuring performance and efficiency."

The chamber has already been used for research as part of an ongoing knowledge transfer partnership with Yorkshire Water. This partnership aims to investigate the capabilities of implementing wireless and sensor technologies to help Yorkshire Water better manage its pipe and drainage infrastructure.

The Centre is also currently looking at how the radiation from mobile phone handsets affects people. Professor Abd-Alhameed added: "The EPSRC is funding research here into the design of new antennas for mobile phone handsets to reduce 'coupling' between the hand and the handset.

"What that basically means is that we are looking at how a different sort of antenna could reduce the amount of radiation that passes into your hand when you hold a mobile phone, which not only might have health implications but also impairs the performance of the handset."

In 2005, the MSCRC received funding from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward to establish the Wireless Centre of Industrial Collaboration (Wireless CIC) in partnership with the University of Leeds. The Wireless CIC aims to exploit the research outcomes of the MSCRC for the promotion of knowledge transfer activities with the local and national industrial base.

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